Search for contractor of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder renewed
The investigation into the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya is to be resumed; the assassin's paymaster is being wanted.
Last week, investigators conducted a series of interrogations, including of the closest associates of Boris Berezovsky. According to Rosbalt, operatives met with Lom-Ali Gaitukaev shortly before his death. The man had been convicted of organizing the journalist’s murder and was serving a life sentence in a Volgograd colony.
Investigators expected that Lom-Ali Gaitukaev would help identify the true murderers, as he was terminally ill and close to death at that time. However, Gaitukaev chose not to tell investigators anything, stating: "I’d rather take this secret with me."
In the early autumn, investigators resumed work on identifying the contractors of the resonant murder. The people interrogated included a close acquaintance of Berezovsky.
According to him, shortly before the murder, Anna Politkovskaya paid a visit to Berezovsky in London; he asked the journalist to prepare and publish several investigations. Politkovskaya refused, saying that Berezovsky's words have no evidence base. "Berezovsky was very upset; he discussed his annoyance, which grew into irritation, with his inner circle, including with Zakaev. Therefore, theoretically, these people could have been the contractors," the witness said.
It should be added that the investigation had arranged a confrontation for the two main defendants of the murder case of Politkovskaya – Lom-Ali Gaitukaev, who was convicted later, and former Head of the Department No. 4 of the Main Directorate of Internal Affairs’ Operational Search Department in Moscow Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov. Back then, the ex-policeman told law enforcement officers that in June 2006, Gaitukaev came to Moscow and claimed to have received an "extremely profitable order" from former leader of the Chechen militants Akhmed Zakaev, who, in turn, represented the interests of Boris Berezovsky.
The ‘order’ was to organize surveillance of Anna Politkovskaya. Gaitukaev transferred $150 thousand as an advance payment with the words "no expense spared," noting that the contractor had a special request – the work on the journalist should be completed by early October. Then, participants in the operation would receive $10 thousand more. As a result, Politkovskaya was killed on October 7.
During the confrontation, the investigator read out Pavlyuchenkov’s testimony to Gaitukayev, and the latter responded that he refused to confirm this information and had not been involved in the murder of Politkovskaya: "You’re trying to get me involved in some sort of political game, but I never had anything to do with it. I have always been in business, helping businessmen get rid of troubles. And that’s it."
During the cross-examination, Gaitukaev was cheerfully and at ease. When Pavlyuchenkov told about $150 thousand received from Gaitukaev for spying on the journalist, he replied a sarcastic joke: "Dima, so it turns out you took 150 kilos from me, without me knowing. Wanna give money back?" Then Pavlyuchenkov began to explain that he had transferred almost the entire amount to former employee of the Regional Directorate for Combating Organized Crime in Moscow Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, also a defendant in the case of Politkovskaya.
To this, Gaitukaev stated the following: "Ok, so Sergey has my 150k? Good, then I’ll ask him," and then assured the investigator that he had not asked anyone to follow anyone, and that it was the first time he had heard about the money.
According to the confrontation results, Gaitukaev confirmed only 10% of information Pavlyuchenkov told the investigation.
The prosecutors want the former Russian Federation Council member to go to prison for 14 years instead of 9 and pay a 500-million-ruble ($8.8 million) fine instead of 70 million rubles ($1.2 million).