Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 237

Anonymous law enforcement officials told the Russian agencies news agency yesterday that investigators looking into last month’s murder of Democratic Russia leader Galina Starovoitova are considering two possible “versions”–one political, the other “commercial.” Ruslan Linkov, Starovoitova’s deputy, who was seriously wounded in the attack which killed the State Duma deputy, has said publicly that he is convinced the motive for the killing was political, and that it was probably carried out by communists or fascists. The anonymous officials told Russian agencies that Starovoitova “knew well” a number of businessmen involved in the lumber and antique trades, and that her son had business relations with some of them. An anonymous high-level Interior Ministry official told Russian agencies that Linkov’s testimony had yielded little information, and that others in Starovoitova’s circle seemed to be withholding information from investigators. Some of Starovoitova’s allies have declared openly that they do not trust the agencies involved in the investigation, including the St. Petersburg branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB). The official told Russian agencies that there was no reason to believe that Starovoitova was carrying a large amount of foreign currency at the time of her murder. Some media have reported that she was carrying US$900,000 (Russian agencies, December 23).

“Komsomolskaya pravda” ran a highly tendentious article today on its front page, alleging, among other things, that Starovoitova was carrying a large amount of money at the time of her murder, which was stolen by the attackers, and that she was among the “co-founders of thirty-six companies registered in Moscow, which cashed money and transferred it abroad.” This “information” was provided to the newspaper by Aleksandr Borisoglebsky, a reporter with two St. Petersburg television stations–channels 5 and 11. Borisoglebsky alleged that Starovoitova herself admitted last spring “that she was close to big bucks.” He also asserted that Linkov was not seriously wounded in the attack, hinting, as “Komsomolskaya pravda” helpfully put it in its headline, that he “might have been an accomplice in the assassination” (Komsomolskaya pravda, December 22). Brian Whitmore, a reporter covering city politics for the English-language “St. Petersburg Times,” told the Monitor today that the St. Petersburg FSB “has been doing everything possible to create this ‘commercial’ version [of the murder], which doesn’t exist.”