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29 Aug, 2007 13:00

Politkovskaya murder: detainees to be formally arrested

A Moscow court has issued arrest warrants for the ten people already being held in connection with the killing of Russian journalist – Anna Politkovskaya.

Among them are ethnic Chechens and former members of the Russian police and Security services.

Moscow's  Basmanny Court issued the warrants after a request from the Prosecutor General's Office.

The names of the suspects are: Aleksey Berkin, Dmitry Lebedev, Tamerlan Makhmudov, Dzhabrail Makhmudov, Ibragim Makhmudov, Oleg Alimov, Magomed Dimelkanov,  Akhmed Isayev, Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, and Dmitry Grachev.

As news of the detentions emerged, Russia Today spoke to Anna Politkovskaya's son Ilya. He said the arrests were not a surprise to him.

“I knew about it before. I did not find it out from Yury Chaika’s statement. I knew it would go that way because the investigators were working on the case. I knew about some arrests have taken place before, I knew there will be more of them. In general I am satisfied with the way the investigation is going,” observed Ilya Politkovsky.

Anna Politkovskaya would have celebrated her 49th birthday on Thursday. It’ll be a painful day for her family but they're learning how to cope.

“Everything is ok, my sister gave birth to her daughter who, of course, was named Anna. Now she is bringing her up and quite soon we are going to christen her,” added Ilya.

Anna Politkovskaya had both Russian and American citizenship. In the United States, where she was born, there has been cautious optimism that the arrests signal real progress in the investigation.

United States Senator Richard Lugar is the latest to comment on the arrests saying that America approves any legal system that is aimed at keeping journalists safe…

“Well, I am not going to attempt to critique the specific case, it is a serious one and it has brought great attention in the U.S. which Russians know. The Russian legal system is working to bring about other hope, safety for Russian journalists not to simply be approved in America. But we are approving those who are working for justice and Russia is to make certain that journalists are safe,” commented United States Senator Richard Lugar.

But at home, some of her former colleagues have criticized statements made by the prosecution.

“I think it is a little bit premature because some questions still remain. There is a public statement by the Prosecutor General.  I mean there is quite a lot written about the correct procedure in law and we need to exercise control before ther final judgement is reached,” said Aleksandr Lebedev, owner of the Novaya Gazeta daily.

Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya worked for seven years, has offered a $US 1 MLN award for the information leading to the arrest of her killers. The money remains unclaimed.

The latest development in the Politkovskaya case has made frontpage news and is likely to remain there.  But the prosecution insists the investigation is in its early stage and will take months before it reaches court.