Ex-policeman held in Russian reporter killing-report

by Reuters
Tuesday, 23 August 2011 19:30 GMT

MOSCOW, Aug 23 (Reuters) - A Russian former police officer was detained on Tuesday in an investigation into the 2006 killing of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya, according to the newspaper she worked for, Novaya Gazeta.

The killing of Politkovskaya, who investigated rights abuses in Chechnya and high-level corruption across Russia, deepened concerns about justice in then-President Vladimir Putin's Russia and drew attention to the risks run by critics of the government.

"Today in the investigation into the murder of Novaya Gazeta's reporter Anna Politkovskaya ... retired Moscow police lieutenant colonel Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov was detained," the newspaper said on its website, citing law enforcement sources.

Russia's Investigative Committee confirmed that Pavlyuchenko had been detained on suspicion of organising Politkovskaya's murder, RIA news agency reported.

Novaya Gazeta reported that Pavlyuchenko was detained on suspicion of receiving an order for the killing of the Kremlin critic, assembling those who carried it out, and giving the killer the gun that was used.

Pavluchenko had previouly testified as a witness to the grizzly murder that took place in Politkovskaya's apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006, the newspaper said.

Earlier this year authorities detained Rustam Makhmudov, the man accused of fatally shooting the investigative journalist, in his native province of Chechnya in southern Russia.

Pavlyuchenko's detention is a new twist in a case that has brought little satisfaction for state prosecutors or for supporters and relatives of Politkovskaya, one of at least a dozen Russian journalists whose politically charged murders have gone unsolved.

Two of Makhmudov's brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim, were acquitted in 2009 along with a third man tried for Politkovskaya's murder, but the Supreme Court threw out the decision and sent the case back to prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Makhmudov followed Politkovskaya into her Moscow apartment building as she returned home from a grocery store and shot her dead. His brothers were accused of helping set up the killing.

Former colleagues and relatives of Politkovsksya have said that justice will not be done until the person or people behind the killing are identified and prosecuted. (Reporting by Thomas Grove, editing by Tim Pearce)

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