It’s already falling like a house of cards. Two more suspects in the Politikovskaya murder were taken off the list today. Prosecutors announced that Oleg Alimov, one of the former Moscow police officers, has been freed from custody. Alimov and his three colleagues were suspected of working with former FSB officer Pavel Riaguzov, police Major Sergei Khadzhikurbanov and three Chechen brothers in the murder. However, Kommersant is now reporting that “an integral part of the Prosecutor’s map of the crime fell apart with the suspects Riaguzov and Khadzhikurbanov. The General Prosecutor presented both with charges of abducting people, violating the privacy of homes, and abusing their position and using excessive official authority.” These charges are for crimes the two men committed with their were a spook and a cop in 2002. “I don’t understand on what basis they tried to tie my client to the Politkovskaya murder case,” Riaguzov’s lawyer told Kommersant. “The charges that they presented to Riaguzov have no connection whatsoever to the murder. A direct connection between both cases is found in the minds of the Prosecutors.” We can probably expect the release of more suspects in the coming days.
Russian officials acknowledge that releasing suspects in a normal practice. “An investigation is being conducted and if the charge doesn’t fit, the suspect is freed.” Some feel that there is pressure for the Politkovskaya investigation be quick, leading to mistakes, rush to judgment, and not fully scrutinizing sources and leads. I can buy that. I’ve seen Law and Order.
It all makes you wonder though if Chaika shot his load too early. Or the announcement is merely part of a campaign to let the world know that the Russians are looking. Another possibility is as Iuliya Latynina suggested, and perhaps she is right, that the “shit was beginning to ooze” and the public was going to find out anyway. If that’s the case, the Prosecutor’s Office might have figured they might as well get some propaganda value out of it. Unfortunately for them, the release of more suspects might squander whatever value is left.