Russian investigators yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s killing by filing new charges against suspects involved in the slaying, but they have remained silent about who might have ordered her murder.
Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006. The brutal attack drew worldwide attention to violence against journalists in Russia and caused widespread suspicions of government involvement.
Russia’s top investigative body said it was filing formal charges yesterday against Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, a native of Chechnya accused of organizing the killing. It said it would also bring new accusations against the suspected triggerman, Rustam Makhmudov and several other suspects.
Makhmudov’s two brothers and another suspect, former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, stood trial on charges of helping stage the killing, but a court found them not guilty in 2009. The Russian Supreme Court overruled the acquittal and has sent the case back to prosecutors. Makhmudov and Gaitukayev — uncle of the Makhmudov brothers — have been detained earlier.
The Investigative Committee said that it would bring new charges against Khadzhikurbanov and the two Makhmudov brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim. Khadzhikurbanov has been in custody, while the two Chechen brothers are free but have been requested not to leave town.
Politkovskaya’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper has welcomed the detention of the suspected shooter and other suspects, but lamented a slow progress on finding a person who ordered the killing. Politkovskaya’s son, Ilya, also criticized authorities for failing to track down the mastermind.
“Five years after we only have suspects accused of staging the killing,” he said, according to RIA Novosti news agency. “It could have been done much earlier. A lot of time has been lost.”
Politkovskaya was killed on birthday of Vladimir Putin, who was serving his second presidential term at the time, and that helped fuel speculations about possible involvement of authorities angered by Politkovskaya’s exposure of atrocities in Chechnya.
Putin made his first public remarks on Politkovskaya’s death a few days after, saying that she had little influence and that her slaying did more to harm to Russia than her articles did. Putin, who turned 59 yesterday, is now Russia’s prime minister and is all but certain to reclaim presidency in March’s election.
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