Suspect Charged in Case of Murdered Russian Journalist

October 01, 2007 11:40 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Accusations of a cover-up follow the indictment of a former Chechen official in connection with the ’06 murder of Anna Politkovskaya, a reporter known for her Chechen war coverage and opposition to Putin.

30-Second Summary

21 Sept.—Russian authorities charged Shamil Burayev with complicity in the murder of Politkovskaya, a journalist on the independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Burayev once governed the Chechen district of Achkhoi-Martan and ran unsuccessfully for the Chechen presidency.

The principal witness against Burayev is Pavel Ryaguzov, an agent for the FSB, the Russian secret service (formerly the KGB). Ryaguzov attests that, acting independently, he found Politkovskaya’s address on FSB files and passed that information on to Burayev so that he could organize the murder.

Despite this latest development, and the arrest of 10 suspects in August, suspicions remain in the international press that the Kremlin may be implicated in the killing.

One source of skepticism is Reporters Without Borders, an organization working globally for press freedom. It points to a number of holes in the Russian investigators’ case.

For example, Politkovskaya was researching an article, presumably an exposé, on one of Burayev’s enemies at the time she was shot on her apartment block stairwell. Killing her would therefore, it is assumed, conflict with Burayev’s own interests.

In addition, there are doubts as to whether Burayev had the resources to oversee and fund a crime that, according to police reports, involved two separate surveillance teams.

In The Moscow Times, journalist and novelist Yulia Latynina writes that the use of such intensive surveillance is “absolutely not the style of hired killers; it is much more the modus operandi of a government law enforcement agency.”

The ongoing police investigation is likely to make more headlines in the next few days with the approach of Oct. 7, the first anniversary of Politkovskaya's death.

Headline Links: Developments in the Russian police investigation

Reactions: Evaluating the Russian police

Opinion: Skepticism in the Russian and American press

Key Players: Politkovskaya and Putin

Anna Politkovskaya

Born in 1958, raised in America and Russia, and the mother of two children, Politkovskaya was best known for her coverage of the conflicts in Chechnya. Chechen separatists have fought Russia for independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Russian President Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in 1952 in Leningrad. For almost two decades, he worked in the KGB, the Russian secret service, and was elected president of the Russian Federation in 1999. He is now serving his second term as president. The Russian constitution limits the president to a maximum of two terms, but there has been much press speculation that Putin may seek to hold on to the reins of power after his presidential tenure has ended.

Background: Dangers facing the Russian press

History: Chechnya and Russia

Related Links: Politkovskaya's last book; Chechen capital Grozny

'A Russian Diary'

Anna Politkovskaya’s diaries, covering the period from the Russian parliamentary elections in Dec. '03 to Aug. '05, were published posthumously in 2007. Publishers Weekly described "A Russian Diary" as recording “with dismal and sardonic exactitude the encroaching power of the State.”

Update: Police say they have identified the killer


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