BRUSSELS - The European Union will raise the murder of a critical Russian investigative journalist with President Vladimir Putin at a summit in Finland next week amid outrage in the European Parliament over her death.
Finnish European Affairs Minister Paula Lehtomaki, whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, told the EU assembly on Wednesday that the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of Putin and his conduct of Moscow's war in Chechnya, was "a major setback for freedom of expression in Russia".
Politkovskaya was shot dead by a lone gunman at her Moscow home on Saturday, two days before her newspaper was due to publish her latest report on torture in Chechnya.
"This is a terrible crime which we call on the Russian authorities thoroughly to investigate. We want the perpetrators to be brought to justice, and this is a particularly important test of the rule of law in Russia," Lehtomaki said.
The EU and Russia had a tradition of open dialogue and they would be discussing "all important issues" when Putin joins the 25 EU leaders for dinner in Lahti on October 20, she said.
Many lawmakers said the EU had not been tough enough with Putin over the murder of Politkovskaya and what some called the suppression of free media and the silencing of critical voices.
Daniel Cohn-Bendit, floor leader of the Greens group, accused the EU of turning a blind eye to what he called Putin's personal role because of its energy dependence on Russia.
"You talk about bringing the perpetrators to justice, but one of the perpetrators is going to be having dinner with you," he told Lehtomaki.
"As we saw on television with (German Chancellor Angela) Merkel and Putin, we need Putin so much that no one is going to be able to ask him the difficult questions," Cohn-Bendit said.
"I think we should negotiate with Putin but we don't have to have cosy dinners with him," he added.
After a two-day silence, Putin condemned the murder of Politkovskaya on Tuesday and acknowledged it had damaged his government's standing. But he belittled her importance, saying her influence on Russian public life was marginal.
The European Parliament observed a minute's silence in honour of Politkovskaya, and speaker after speaker used a debate on next week's EU summit to condemn her killing and criticise a crackdown on freedom of expression in Russia.