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Politkovskaya investigation closed; three suspects charged; killer remains at large

Politkovskaya investigation closed; three suspects charged; killer remains at large
Her killers remain at large: Russian investigators have said that three men have been charged for the killing of Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 -- but the actual assassin remains at large.Photo: AFP/DDP/File/Jens Schlueter

Three men have been charged for the killing of Russian journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 but the actual assassin remains at large, investigators said on Wednesday, according to news reports.

In a June 18 statement announcing the completion of the inquiry, the investigative committee of the Prosecutor-General's Office named the men accused of her assassination as Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, Dzhabrail Makhmudov, and Ibragim Makhmudov. Khadzhikurbanov is a former police officer. The two others are brothers and come from Chechnya

Three men were charged with involvement in Polikovskaya's murder while an officer from the Federal Security Service, the FSB, faces charges of extortion and abuse of office, the committee said, according to the Associated Press (AP). The four have been held since their arrests last August.

Politkovskaya, 48, was shot to death in her central Moscow apartment building in October 2006. Colleagues believe her murder was linked to her work reporting on abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya.

More from the AP report:

One suspect, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, is a former police officer. Two others, brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov, are from Chechnya.

The committee said the charges against the FSB officer, Lt Col Pavel Ryaguzov, relate to other crimes. It wasn't immediately clear whether Wednesday's charges were somehow connected to Politkovskya's murder. Authorities previously have accused Ryaguzov of giving Politkovskaya's killers her address.

The committee did not cite an alleged motive for Politkovskaya's killing or specify the suspects' roles in her murder. A separate probe into the suspected shooter Rustam Makhmudov, who remains at large, will continue, the Investigative Committee said Wednesday. He is the oldest of the Makhmudov brothers.

Charges against several others, including former Chechnya district administrator Shamil Burayev, were dropped, the committee said.

“We regret the premature conclusion of the investigation,” Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “It would be outrageous if the investigators did not go any further, as they still have not identified who gave the orders for the murder. We call for assurances that the investigation will resume after these three initial suspects have been tried.”

"I have said many times that this is only the first part of the case," said Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, the investigative newspaper where Politkovskaya worked, Interfax news agency reported. "It's not over yet, there will be a second and a third part," Sokolov said, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report.

Politkovskaya family lawyer Anna Stavitskaya said the authorities had been in a rush to close the case. “There are no grounds for concluding the investigation as the persons really involved have not been found,” she said, according to RSF. “I do no understand why the case is being brought to trial already.”

Date posted: June 18, 2008 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 704