The names of 10 suspects arrested during the investigation of Anna Politkovskaya murder case were announced on August 28. Russia’s Prosecutor General, Yuri Chaika, stated that five of the suspects are former law-enforcement officers and security agents, whereas the rest of them are natives of Chechnya.
Four of the arrested individuals supposedly worked in the external observation department of the Moscow Police. Organizers of Politkovskaya’s killing hired the four men to spy on the reporter for several months, investigators say. Another law-enforcement officer provided the group behind Politkovskaya’s killing with information on her telephone conversations.
The former security service agents arrested on the murder case have nothing to do with the killing of the reporter. They did not know that someone intended to kill the reporter, nor did they communicate with the assassin or anyone who hired him, investigators say.
Yuri Chaika said that the assassin, who shot Anna Politkovskaya dead on October 7, 2006 in her apartment building, had been arrested too. However, detainees’ lawyers claim that the case does not identify the killer. They say that all of the suspects have been charged with criminal complicity.
Three of the suspects – brothers Tamerlan, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Akhmedovs – acted as mediators, who were supposedly ordered to find special agents to receive information about the victim from them. According to another version, one of them could act as a killer.
Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika said on Monday that only someone living outside Russia would have an interest in killing Politkovskaya, with the aim of discrediting President Vladimir Putin and destabilizing the country before national elections.
The prosecutor appeared to be referring to Boris Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider who is one of Putin's fiercest critics and lives in Britain, where he has refugee status.
In pointing to Russia's enemies abroad, Chaika echoed statements by Putin shortly after Politkovskaya's death that "people who are hiding from Russian law enforcement have been hatching plans to sacrifice someone and create an anti-Russian wave in the world."
Berezovsky said Monday that the effort to link him to Politkovskaya's death was a "hysterical reaction" to his criticism of Putin.
Much speculation about Politkovskaya's slaying has focused on Kadyrov, who was Chechnya's prime minister when she was killed and became its president in March. He has denied involvement.
Politkovskaya had been a consistent critic of Kadyrov, accusing his security forces of kidnapping and torturing civilians. She also had reported on brutal treatment of civilians by Russian servicemen in Chechnya, the AP says.
Politkovskaya was killed less than two months before the radiation poisoning death in London on Nov. 23 of Berezovsky associate and former KGB counterintelligence officer Alexander Litvinenko, which further damaged the Russian leadership's reputation abroad.
Days after Politkovskaya's death, Putin suggested her killing could have been plotted by Kremlin foes abroad to harm Russia's image, and his allies have made similar remarks about Litvinenko's death. In November, Chaika said a foreign connection was among several theories being investigated in the Politkovskaya case.
Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov