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Russia24 September 2007

Former Chechen official formally charged with complicity in Politkovskaya murder

Piotr Kazakov, the lawyer of former Chechen official Shamil Burayev, reported on 21 September that his client, who was arrested on 12 September, has been formally charged with complicity in the October 2006 murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya.

Pavel Ryaguzov, a member of the FSB (former KGB) who has also been arrested in connection with the case, reportedly alleged that he gave Politkovskaya’s address to Burayev so that he could organise the killing.

The former head of the Chechen district of Achkhoi-Martan, Burayev ran unsuccessfully for the Chechen presidency in 2003 against Akhmat Kadyrov, the father of the current Chechen president.

19 September 2007

Former Chechen official arrested on suspicion of organising Politkovskaya murder

Shamil Burayev, a former official who was once in charge of Achkhoi-Martan, a district in Chechnya, has been arrested on suspicion of organising the October 2006 murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya, the daily newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda reported on 15 September.

The newspaper said he allegedly obtained Politkovskaya’s address from a member of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Pavel Ryaguzov, and used it to organise her murder. Ryaguzov had already been arrested in connection with the investigation.

Burayev’s arrest on 12 September raises many questions. At the time of her death, Politkovskaya was researching a story about Ramzan Kadyrov, the son a former Chechen president murdered in 2004 and a former opponent of Burayev. According to the current head of Achkhoi-Martan, Musa Dadayev, Burayev’s interests never conflicted with Politkovskaya’s. The president of the Chechen Council of State, Malik Saidullaev, questioned that Burayev had the required contacts and resources to organise a murder.

Burayev told the daily newspaper Kommersant last week he had run into Ryaguzov a few times but never discussed Politkovskaya with him and lost contact with him after he ceased to hold an official post in 2003. Politkovskaya only ever wrote one article about Burayev. Published in 2003, it described the weakness of his position in relation to Akhmat Kadyrov, who beat him to the Chechen presidency in an election in 2003.

Novaya Gazeta deputy editor Serguei Sokolov nonetheless said Burayev’s arrest came as no surprise to the newspaper because of the leaks to the press about his alleged involvement in Politkovskaya’s murder. He said the newspaper was worried about the volume of leaks in recent weeks, which had allowed suspects to flee after learning from the press that they were named in the conclusions of the investigation.

Sokolov added that, in his view, it could not be ruled out that the people responsible for the leaks were the ones who organised Politkovskaya’s murder.

5 September 2007 Confusion and turnarounds feed doubts about the capacity of justice system to solve murder of Anna Politkovskaya

“The many twists and turns in the case since last week’s announcement of the arrest of ten suspects in the 7 October 2006 murder of Anna Politkovskaya are feeding our doubts over the capacity and determination of the Russian authorities to solve it, nearly a year after the brutal killing of the journalist,” Reporters Without Borders said today.

“Attempts to discredit the case, orchestrated since prosecutor general Yuri Chaika announced the arrests, by those who have reasons not to want the murder solved, have not been any more helpful,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“All this should not allow the most important issue to be overlooked, namely that the security forces apparently provided assistance to organised crime to murder the journalist,” the organisation said.

“Successive statements, denials and turnarounds in the past 48 hours have given a deplorably confused character to the actions of the Russian authorities, totally incompatible with the gravity and seriousness that one has the right to expect in such a highly important case,” the organisation added.

“We call on the justice system to keep in mind the demand of Anna Politkovskaya’s family and colleagues for the truth. We share their anxiety following the announced appointment of Sergei Ivanov as chief investigator and we hope that these changes will not damage the quality of the investigation,” Reporters Without Borders concluded.

The prosecutor-general’s office said yesterday that a new investigating team had been created and that Sergei Ivanov, head of the investigative department in top-level cases within the office, would head and co-ordinate the work of two groups, while until now, Pyotr Garibian was in sole charge of the investigation.

The prosecutor-general’s office said the decision was made because of the sheer volume of work to be done in the case. But the fact that a follow-up committee to check up on highly sensitive cases is due to start work on 7 September, may explain these changes.

The same day it was learned that the arrest of an FSB officer, Pavel Riaguzov, ruled illegal on 3 September by a Moscow military appeal court, had been upheld by another judge. Moreover, contradictory news is circulating about the crime for which the officer was arrested. His lawyer said he was facing proceedings in connection with a case dating back to 2002 which had no link to the death of Anna Politkovskaya.

Two other people on a list of suspects published on 28 August 2007 in the daily Tvoy Den, Alexei Berkin - body guard - and Oleg Alimov - a former Moscow police officer - were reportedly released for lack of evidence. Another suspect, Sergei Khadjikurbanov, a police officer specialised in the fight against organised crime, was in prison at the time of the murder.

The lawyer for Politkovskaya’s family, Anna Stavitskaya, has made it known that she has urged the prosecutor-general’s office to discover who leaked the identity of the suspects.

Russia’s Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaïka announced the arrest of ten suspects in the case on 27 August. Investigations centred on the Chechnya connection and he pointed the finger at an organised group headed “by the chief of a Moscow criminal gang, of Chechen origins” and said that among its ranks were former and current agents of the interior ministry and the FSB.

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