Assassination of Anna Politkovskaya - Case Developments - Suspected Killer Identified

Suspected Killer Identified

On 28 March 2008, it was reported that the suspected killer of journalist Anna Politkovskaya was identified. The suspect was identified as 30-years old Chechen Rustam Makhmudov, a brother of Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudovs who have been suspected on complicity to the murder.

However, on 3 April 2008, Investigating Committee of the Persecution Office of Russia Dmitry Dovgy (suspended of his duty under allegations of taking bribes, though the interview was taken before his suspension) told the press that he is convinced that "Politkovskaya's murder was masterminded by Boris Berezovsky and carried out by Khozh-Ahmed Noukhayev". Dovgy said that the murder was aimed at undermining confidence in law and order in Russia. He said the organizers "wanted to show that well-known people can be killed here in broad daylight, with the law enforcement agencies seemingly unable to solve such crimes". Berezovsky dismissed the accusations in an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio. "This is another attempt to distract the investigation from searching for the real person behind the murder," he said.

On 4 April 2008, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that all suspects in the case are members of Russian special services, and someone in the government protects the killers by openly disclosing the secret materials of the investigation. The report discussed the involvement of Nukayev who allegedly also organized the assassination of Paul Khlebnikov. According to this publication, the traces of the killers lead to the gang of Maxim Lazovsky, a former FSB officer who allegedly organized a bombing in Moscow in 1994, and was later involved in the 1999 Russian apartment bombings.

On 18 June 2008, the investigating committee at the Moscow prosecutor general's office announced that the preliminary investigation was concluded, and three people, Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, Dzhabrail Makhmudov and Ibragim Makhmudov, were set to stand trial for murder. Another suspect, Pavel Ryaguzov, has been charged with lesser offenses, including abuse of office and extortion. Colleagues who were close to Politkovskaya at Novaya Gazeta say the mystery is far from over however. Deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta magazine, Sergey Sokolov said: "The investigation is finished in regards to only the three people in question. But as for other people involved - the ones who have been identified and those who are still to be identified, like the killer and the person who ordered the murder - they are set apart into a separate group. The investigation will be continued." Russian prosecutors said their investigation against Rustam Makhmudov, who a month ago they alleged shot Politkovskaya, was ongoing.

On 1 July 2008, Russia's chief investigator Alexander Bastrykin confirmed that Rustam Makhmudov, the man believed by authorities to have fired the fatal shot, was hiding in western Europe. Bastrykin did not publicly identify the specific country, but said it was known by Russian authorities. Unconfirmed Russian media reports suggest that Moscow has requested Makhmudov's extradition from Belgium. At the end of May 2011, Makhmudov was arrested in Chechenya.

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