Vyacheslav Izmailov: We Know Who Ordered Anna Politkovskaya’s Murder

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 22

Liberation reported on May 28 that Novaya gazeta, which has been conducting its own investigation into the October 2006 murder of its award-winning correspondent, Anna Politkovskaya, has learned who ordered the killing. According to a Russian-language translation of the Liberation article posted on the Inopressa.ru website, the French newspaper quoted Vyacheslav Izmailov, the retired army major and Novaya gazeta military correspondent who is part of the newspaper’s team investigating the Politkovskaya murder, as saying: “We have identified the people who ordered it. It remains to be determined whether they acted independently or were connected with the Russian secret services.”

Novaya gazeta believes that two high-ranking officials in Chechnya’s pro-Moscow government ordered Politkovskaya’s murder, Liberation reported. “The status of one of them suggests connections with the FSB [Federal Security Service],” Liberation wrote. “After Anna’s murder the suspects and their retainers were appointed to even higher posts. In order to protect itself, the editorial staff of Novaya gazeta has reported their [the suspects’] names to the BBC, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists and Liberation.”

The journalists of Novaya gazeta decided they had an obligation to speak out about the Chechen trail in the Politkovskaya murder because they believe the official investigation by the police and Prosecutor General’s Office has been “led astray,” Liberation reported. “Until recently, we were satisfied with the investigation,” Izmailov told the French newspaper. “The investigators developed the same trail as us. But strange things started to happen.” Liberation quoted Izmailov as saying that the FSB is trying to “point the investigation” at Boris Berezovsky, the London-based self-exiled Russian oligarch. According to the French newspaper, the FSB is also trying to implicate Berezovsky in the radioactive poisoning of former FSB officer Aleksandr Litvinenko in London last year. Izmailov added that a “highly professional investigator” involved in the Politkovskaya murder investigation was removed from the case.

As Liberation noted, seven months after the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, the people who actually committed the murder have not yet been caught. According to the newspaper, security cameras in her apartment building and those in the store where she shopped just before being shot to death in her apartment building captured the images of three suspects – “one killer and two sentries, a man and a woman.” Despite this footage, the three suspects have not been identified. “Without those who carried it out, it will be very difficult to charge those who ordered it,” Izmailov told the newspaper. “The latter were in Chechnya on the day of the murder. We are afraid that they will be acquitted even if they appear in court.”

Liberation reported that according to numerous Novaya gazeta sources in Chechnya, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov is fully aware of who ordered Politkovskaya’s murder. It quoted Kadyrov as telling confidants: “They killed her – not on my orders, but on the orders of the FSB.” The French newspaper quoted an unnamed Novaya gazeta journalist as saying: “In any case, the FSB and the administration of the Russian president, which controls it, are preventing [the identity of] those guilty from being established.” Liberation added: “One of those assumed to have ordered [the murder], it seems, has already been promised a bright future in Chechnya, one that does not exclude the possibility of becoming the first person of the republic if the current president is murdered, as his father was in the summer of 2004. The murder of Anna Politkovskaya, thus, was a testimony of loyalty to the Russian special services.”

Last February, Spain’s El Pais newspaper reported that detectives investigating Politkovskaya’s murder were focusing on Kadyrov’s inner circle and believed that he, at a minimum, knew the identity of her killers. The Spanish paper quoted Vyacheslav Izmailov as saying that the murder trail led to Kadyrov’s entourage but that the Russian authorities were “exerting pressure” on the investigators to pin the crime on Boris Berezovsky. “We don’t know if Kadyrov himself ordered the murder, but we know that he is well-informed about who did it,” the Spanish newspaper quoted Izmailov as saying. He added that “at a minimum, three sources with no connection to one another” had alleged Kadyrov’s involvement in the murder.

Meanwhile, relatives and friends of Politkovskaya gathered in Moscow on May 30 to present a new book by the slain journalist – “What For,” a collection of her finished and unfinished articles for Novaya gazeta compiled by her son Ilya, daughter Vera and sister Yelena Kudimova. The Moscow Times reported on May 31 that “What For,” which hit the shelves two weeks ago, is currently Moscow’s No. 2 bestseller despite its relatively high price of 600 rubles (more than $23). Kavkazky Uzel on May 30 quoted Novaya gazeta chief editor Dmitry Muratov as saying at the book presentation that the newspaper will publish the findings of its own investigation of Politkovskaya’s murder if the results of the official investigation are dictated by political considerations.