Politkovskaya Trial Date Is Set

Posted on October 11, 2008


3:02pm UK, Tuesday October 07, 2008

Sky News UK

Four men will go on trial in a military court next Wednesday in connection with the murder of Russian investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya, a court spokesman has said.

Anna Politkovskaya remembered in Paris on day before anniversary of her death

Activists in Paris remember murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya

Politkovskaya, a critic of the Kremlin who was dubbed “the conscience of Russia“, was shot dead outside her Moscow flat on October 7, 2006.

Three men – Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former officer in a Moscow police organised crime unit, and brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov – are charged with helping the gunman, who remains at large.

The fourth man on trial is Pavel Ryaguzov, a former officer in the FSB secret service, one of the successor agencies to the KGB.

Ryaguzov was initially named as a murder suspect until prosecutors changed the charges against him to extortion and abuse of power.

Court spokesman Alexander Minchanovsky said: “Today the Moscow District Military Court set a date for the preliminary hearing in the criminal case against Pavel Ryaguzov, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and the Makhmudov brothers.

“The hearing will take place on October 15.”

Ryaguzov’s former FSB membership means that all four will be tried in a military court, which critics fear could mean the trial being closed to the public.

Politkovskaya became internationally renowned for exposing human rights violations in Chechnya.

However, her public opposition to then-President Vladimir Putin, now prime minister of Russia, made her plenty of enemies.

She claimed that she had survived a poisoning attempt while on a plane taking her to Chechnya to cover the Beslan school massacre in September 2004.

Her assassination sparked outraging among Western governments and the Russian opposition.

Meanwhile, about 200 of her supporters gathered in Moscow to mark the second anniversary of her killing.

Her former editor at the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta told the crowd that investigators have deliberately undermined the case.

Dmitry Muratov added: “We will not let ourselves be fooled. As long as the killer and the mastermind remain free, the investigation is not over.”

He went on to accuse secret service officers, known colloquially as Chekists, of leaking information to the detriment of the investigation.

“As long as traitors from the ranks of Chekist generals leak secret information from the investigation, allowing the killers to remain at large, Anna’s case is still open,” he said.

A demonstration in Paris by Action By Christians Against Torture and Amnesty International remembered Politkovskaya the day before the anniversary of her murder.