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Interview with Roman Shleynov

Roman Shleynov is a former colleague of Anna Politkovskaya and head of investigative journalism at the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.  He spoke to Russia Today about the recent arrests in the Politkovskaya case.

Russia Today: Unlike other Russian newspapers, you have been very critical of the results of the investigation. Can you tell us more about your misgivings?

Roman Shleynov: You see, we are not critical of the results of the official investigation.  We know that detectives are working hard and are doing everything to solve this crime.  I know that because our journalists are in close contact with investigation team at the state prosecutor’s office. The problem, as we see it, is the political nature of the statement made by Russia's Prosecutor General, Yury Chaika.  He was clear about where the investigators should find the perpetrators of the crime, and even gave us their motives.  We don't understand why the Prosecutor General made this statement before the criminal case was concluded and before everything was made clear.

RT: So, you are saying the statement was premature and could destabilize the case, despite the fact that you are working closely with the authorities?

R.S.: I mean the investigators are working.  I must make it clear that in Russia there is a great difference between ordinary detectives and their bosses – the top political figures.  I am afraid that political statements made regarding this case, first by the President, you remember, right after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, and later by the Prosecutor General.  These statements can influence the investigation.

RT: Putting politics aside, are these arrests good news ten months after the murder.  Doesn't it show that at least something is been done about it?

R.S.: I consider it to be a positive step.  I cannot remember another criminal case in Russia where the preliminary results were disclosed so early.

RT: What effect has the death of one of your leading writers, who was also a well-known figure globally, had on investigative reporting on your newspaper?

R.S.: You see, in Russia, journalists, and I suppose everybody else, get used to the fact that reporters can be murdered.  For example in our newspaper Anna was not the first journalist who was killed. Before that it was our deputy-Editor Yury Schekochikhin, who died under strange circumstances.  And the state prosecutor’s office refused to conduct a criminal case even though he was asked to by Parliament.  And before that it was our correspondent Igor Domnikov who was murdered in Moscow. So for us nothing changed.

RT: But this murder is already an international story that is being closely followed around the world. Is it not, perhaps, a turning point for investigative journalism in Russia, an opportunity to make the working environment for journalists safer?

R.S.: No, I do not think so.  I suppose the work of Anna Politkovskaya will be continued by our other journalists, but I do not think the story of her murder will have much influence over journalists in Russia.

RT: You will continue the work. Does that mean that your reporters will be risking their lives?

R.S.: No, I do not feel that we are risking our lives. You see, Anna Politkovskaya was a very famous person and I really do not know who ordered her murder.  But I cannot stay that every journalist in Russia is in danger when they are doing their work.

RT: What you think about the future? Do you think that those who carried out this murder will be brought to justice?

R.S.: Well, I suppose those people who actualy committed the crime can be brought to court.  But I am not sure that those behind the murder and those who took out a contract on her life will be brought to justice in Russia.

RT: And what conclusions have you made from your own investigation?

R.S.: You see, it is impossible for the journalists to conduct an investigation concerning contract killing.  Our correspondents can only collect the materials and information from various sources and give this information to the investigating officers.  That's what our correspondents did, and they worked as a team with the state prosecutor’s office.