Murders of Politkovskaya and Klebnikov `linked`: Russia`s Prosecutor General

Russia`s Prosecutor General, Yury Chaika, made such a statement at a press conference in Moscow after ten people had been arrested in connection with the murder of Ms Politkovskaya.

Ms Politkovskaya, a Russian newspaper journalist, was shot dead in her Moscow apartment block in October 2006.

The Russian Prosecutor General, Yury Chaika, has said the group suspected of killing the journalist may have been linked to the 2004 murder of U.S. reporter Paul Klebnikov.

Mr Chaika said the person who carried out the murder has been arrested.
 
“The murder was carefully planned, there were two surveillance groups. At the head of all this was the leader of a Moscow criminal group, a Chechen resident, engaged in criminal activity and specialising in contract killings. According to evidence we uncovered, the group organised several contract killings not only in Russia but in Ukraine and Latvia,” stated the Prosecutor General, adding some officials of the Interior Ministry were also involved in the case.
 
“Unfortunately, former and current employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, as well as a member of the Federal Security Service were also involved in the tracking and the supplying of information about Anna Politkovskaya. They have also been arrested”.

Aleksandr Kupryzhkin, head of the FSB   
             Internal Security department
Aleksandr Kupryzhkin, head of the FSB Internal Security department

Speaking about the people behind the murder, Mr Chaika said the trail leads abroad.

“Regarding the motives of the murder, we can say that the results of the investigation show that this murder was profitable only to those who live outside the Russian Federation. First of all these are people who seek to destabilise the situation in the country, to change the constitutional order, to force a crisis upon the country. These people want to return to the previous system of governing, when money and oligarchs decided everything. They seek to discredit the leaders of Russia and provoke outside involvement in the governing of our country,” said Yury Chaika.

So  journalists wasted no time in putting a name forward. That of Boris Berezovsky was mentioned more than once. The Prosecutor General, though, was elusive, saying that “they are examining all versions”.

Later the head of the FSB Internal Security department, Aleksandr Kupryzhkin, gave further details of the arrest.

“The Russian General Prosecution has detained an active-duty member of the Federal Security Service, Pavel Ryaguzov. He is suspected of criminal activity in the case of Anna Politkovskaya. Ryaguzov had already been watched by the FSB as a member of a criminal group, suspected of extortion. He is also charged with actions beyond his authority. The FSB and General Prosecutor’s office are to work hand-in-hand in the investigation the case,” Aleksandr Kupryzhkin stated.

The murder was carefully planned, there were two surveillance groups. At the head of all this was the leader of a Moscow criminal group, a Chechen resident, engaged in criminal activity and specialising in contract killings. According to evidence we uncovered, the group organised several contract killings not only in Russia but in Ukraine and Latvia,

Yury Chaika, Russia's Prosecutor General

Anna Politkovskaya was killed when she was returning to her home in central Moscow. A pistol and four shells were found near her body.
 
A CCTV video showed a man entering the apartment building and then walking out at about the time the journalist was murdered.
 
Early reports indicated a contract killing, but it was unclear who ordered the murder.
 
One of the main versions put forward by the investigation was, and still is, that Politkovskaya was killed because of her professional activity.
 
She was known for her critical works on Chechnya and the North Caucasus.
 
“In seven years working for the newspaper she published almost 600 articles, almost all of them related to Chechnya – abductions, tortures, killings, corruption amongst military and police. And her articles were always very proving, so almost 40 criminal cases were launched on the basis of the publications,” commented Vitaly Yaroshevsky, Novaya Gazeta Editor-in-Chief.
 
The audacious killing shocked the world and triggered a wave of protest. International journalists and politicians condemned the murder of Politkovskaya.
 

Yury Chaika, Russia's Prosecutor General
Yury Chaika, Russia's Prosecutor General

Rallies took place both in Russia and abroad demanding of an imminent and thorough investigation.
 
The killing of a journalist known for her critical approach to the government's policies, caused some Western observers to accuse the Kremlin of somehow being involved.
 
President Putin rejected this idea.
 
“Whoever committed this crime and whatever the motives were, it was a disgusting crime abhorring in its cruelty and it surely should not be left unpunished. Indeed she sharply criticised the existing government of Russia, but journalists should know, and experts are fully aware, that as for the degree of her influence on the political life in Russia, it was very insignificant. I think that the murder itself has caused much greater damage and loss, than any of her publications,” he stated.
 
Anna Politkovskaya was posthumously awarded with the UNESCO Freedom of the Press award.
 
The detention of ten people in connection to her murder is the first big break in the case giving hope those responsible will be brought to justice.

RT’s political commentatorPeter Lavelle says he wasn’t surprised when the Prosecutor General mentioned the Chechen trace in the Politkovskaya case.
 
“The fact that there were Chechen links at the investigation has been rumoured long – ever since the murder happened. What is interesting here is that at that time active members of the Interior Force and the FSB were involved. This is very important. This is a house-cleaning going on and the Prosecutor General thanked both ministries for helping his department get to the bottom of this,” Peter Lavelle stressed.

 
Besides Politkovskaya’s murder the Prosecutor General has also touched upon a number of other issues, including the Yukos affair and the Berezovsky case.

Aleksandr Khinstein from the State Duma says the arrests show the prosecution system in Russia is improving.

“In the past year since Yury Chaika took office the prosecution system has improved greatly and the progress it has made in uncovering contract murders serves as proof of it,” Aleksandr Khinstein noted.