Scratch two off the list of suspects in the Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. Yesterday, authorities released Alexei Berkin from police custody for lack of evidence. Prosecutors initially believed that Berkin was in league with the Chechen based Lasagna criminal gang (no really that’s what the article says ‘lasagna” Man, these guys really need to lay off the Italian mob flicks). Berkin couldn’t be reached for comment. His wife told Kommersant that he was out walking the baby. But she told reporters this, “We don’t want to relive this nightmare. He won’t tell you anything because he made a non-disclosure agreement [with the police].” Calls to Berkin’s mobile also went unanswered. Apparently, it is still in police custody.
Prosecutors also discovered that the alibi for another one of its suspects, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, was true. At the time of Politkovskaya’s murder, Khadzhikurbanov was in jail.
Way to go boys. Way to go.
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By Sean — 11 years ago
One day later and Russia and world have reacted to the arrest of 10 suspects in Anna Politkovskaya’s murder. Most of the Russian media have led with the story. The Kremlin funded English language Russia Today provided an overview of the story and the subsequent international reaction. The popular daily Komsomolskaya pravda hyped the fact that one of its correspondents originally spotted the killer, reporting that he “conducted himself like a agent or an operational worker from [Russian] security forces.” One of those arrested, Pavel Riaguzov, served in the central administration of the Moscow region FSB. According to statements given to the press by FSB General-Lieutenant Aleksandr Kupriazhkin, Riaduzov has long been suspected of having criminal ties. KP wondered whether Riagunov was indeed the person their correspondent spotted. Moskovskii Komsomolets also focused on the Riaguzov angle, and like KP, pointed to his connections to criminal elements. “The Chekist allegedly provided wiretaps and details of Politkovskaya’s conversations.” Riaguzov’s lawyers called the accusations “complete nonsense.” Nezavisimaya gazeta focused on the Western media’s obsession with the claim that the murder might be connected to Boris Berezovsky.
But not all the Russian media is so tame or sensible. Writing in the ever critical Ezhednevnyi zhurnal, Iuliya Latynina, in a bold headline “A Trotskyist-Berezovskii Operation,” searches for the conspiracy behind the conspiracy. And sadly Stalin’s historical footprint always seems to reveal itself on these occasions. She asks why the findings about Politkovskaya murder were revealed to the public at this moment. She gives three answers. First, simply, the “shit already had began to ooze,” and the revelation about the arrests to the public was inevitable. There was no way to hide the fact that those arrested–two former chekisty, some police officers, and Chechens bandits–was going to go unnoticed. If the government didn’t construct a preemptive narrative, it was likely the public would have made their own conclusion. And Latynina thinks that this conclusion would be unpleasant for the authorities. “For example, the public could decide that security agents . . could hardly take orders from enemies of the regime, which could keep all of their business under lock and key, but easily take orders from persons who keep their business quiet in case of failure. I personally think that this version is the most believable.” By her logic the first rule of politics is: control the message.
Second reason: the case will die in the courts. The “lack of evidence” and “pressure.” This, Latynina thinks is the most unlikely.
Third, the announcement of the arrests is a preview of a “big autumn Presidential fight.” Taken with the bombing of the Neva Express and the arrest of Tambov mafia boss Vladimir Kumarin, finding Politkovskaya’s killers falls into a political context that Latynina thinks will “end Putin’s road to retirement.”
So much for the Prosecutor office’s request that “reporters be more accurate with various kinds of information from unofficial sources and refrain from publishing the reports that may hinder investigation.”
Latynina’s comments remind me a bit like Freud’s death drive. Either people like her are so traumatized by living where the leader is eternal that they can’t imagine anything different even if they oppose said leader, or the desire for say Putin to leave office is so great it doubles back as a perverted desire that he will stay. Wouldn’t everything Latynina thinks about Russia be undermined if there is a peaceful transition of power through, albeit flawed, elections? After all, she might find more comfort in a verified ego rather than in one faced with the horrific notion that what it thinks no longer conforms to reality. Where would she be if the great Evil Putin wasn’t there to give her purpose?
Since everyone is speculating about the timing of the arrests, there is one coincidence that can’t be ignored. The arrests come a few days before Politkovskaya’s birthday. She would have turned 49 on August 30.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the arrests have revealed something far more disturbing than any grand conspiracy to manufacture a way for Putin to remain in office. As Novaya gazeta’s editorial board noted in a statement on the arrests, the investigation shows that elements in Russia’s security organs and the criminal underworld have cooperative ties. How high up this goes or whether they are rogue or connected to the Presidential administration is unknown. Either way such elements are likely to out last this and future administrations.
By Sean — 10 years ago
Russian authorities announced yesterday that the investigation into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya is complete. Or at least one leg of it. Three suspects will be charged with being accomplices in the murder: Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, a former detective with the Moscow Department to Combat Organized Crime, and the brothers Makhmudov, Dzhabrail and Ibrahim. All three are Chechens. In addition, to the three, Pavel Ryaguzov, a former senior detective for the Moscow FSB is accused of abusing his position. Ryaguzov provided Politkovskaya’s home address to an old friend, Shamil Buraev. He passed the information to a childhood friend Lom-Ali Gaitukaev, who then gave it to the Makhmudovs, who are his nephews. What a tangled web we weave when we practice to deceive.
Ryaguzov claims he didn’t know Politkovskaya’s murder was in the making. As for Gaitukaev, he was convicted earlier this year for the attempted murder of Gennady Korban, a Ukrainian financier with the company Privat. He will sit in a cell for 13 years. Finally, the third Makhmudov brother, Rustam, is still wanted by the police.
As you can see from the above list of people and their connections, the Russian authorities have a web of players, but still no killer or the murder’s contractor.
Sergei Sokolov, the editor of Politkovskaya’s paper, Novaya gazeta, stated that if you read the announcement closely, you’ll notice that the investigation is only completed into the named individuals. The overall inquiry is far from over since the killer and contractor still remain on the loose. This view was reiterated in an editorial on the paper’s website.
Central to Novaya‘s statement is who, for what purpose, and more importantly in whose interests was information about the investigaton leaked which might have allowed the killer, who is believed to either be Rustam Makdmudov or closely connected to him, to flee Russia and the murder’s contractor to cover his footprints? Back in April, Life.ru published a photo of Rustam Makhmudov, which Novaya believes was done intentionally to warn him that the police were on the hunt. And where might the source of the leak reside? Why in none other than someone in the FSB.
As for the truth of how this last assertion will pan out, that remains to be seen.