Investigative Committee dropped investigation into Paul Khlebnikov’s homicide
In July 2019, the statute of limitations for prosecuting in the case of the Forbes editor’s murder in Moscow expires.
The ICR has stopped the investigation into the murder of Forbes Russia editor Paul Khlebnikov, which occurred in Moscow in the mid-2000s, Rosbalt reports, citing a source familiar with the situation. The source clarified that the suspension of the investigation was reported to one of the defendants in the case, who addressed the ICR with a question about his future. In July 2019, the 15-year-old statute of limitations for prosecution in Khlebnikov’s case expires: defendants and suspects who have not been put on the wanted list will in fact escape conviction for killing the journalist. There is also little likelihood that Kazbek and Magomed Dukuzov wanted in the case will be brought to justice.
According to investigators, six people were complicit in the murder of US citizen Khlebnikov: Kazbek and Magomed Dukuzov, Magomed Edilsultanov, Musa Vakhaev, Marat Valeev and the alleged orchestrator Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev. In 2004, Kazbek Dukuzov was detained in Minsk, and Musa Vakhaev – in Moscow. The rest of the persons involved in the case were put on the international wanted list. In May 2006, a jury of Moscow City Court acquitted the arrested, but the Prosecutor General’s Office got the decision annulled in the Supreme Court, however Kazbek Dukuzov had already managed to escape, while Vakhaev stayed in Moscow.
In early 2009, investigators found out that native of Chechnya Turpal Hasaev lived in Moscow under Marat Valeev's passport. He was caught during a special operation while trying to cross the Russian border with Abkhazia. Afterwards, Khasaev was taken to Moscow. He was charged with Attempted Murder (Art.. 30, Art. 105 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), Creation of a Criminal Community (Art. 210 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation), Extortion (Art. 163 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) and Illegal Possession of Firearms (Art. 222 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Khasaev was first sent to Lefortovo detention center and then to Matrosskaya Tishina. After that, all charges were dropped and he was released from custody.
Similar developments surrounded Magomed Edilsultanov. According to the investigation, the same group of suspects shot former Vice-Premier of Chechnya Yan Sergunin in Moscow in June 2004. According to the case file, Edilsultanov watched the future victims; his phone was used near the place of the murders of Khlebnikov and Sergunin. In 2010, Edilsultanov was detained, however, he was released after interrogation. Later, he was acquitted of charges.
The Prosecutor General’s Office canceled resolutions to terminate criminal proceedings against Khasaev and Edilsultanov several times, but the investigators pressed their point. Subsequently, the charges were dropped.
In 2015, the investigation found out that Kazbek Dukuzov had lived in the United Arab Emirates under a false name. In 2011, he was arrested for organizing a robbery attack on two businessmen and sentenced to ten years in prison there. In early 2015, Russia sent a request to the UAE to extradite Dukuzov, but later it turned out that he was released under an amnesty declared by the ruler of Dubai in honor of the beginning of the month of Ramadan. After that, Dukuzov left the UAE. He later appeared in Chechnya, but the question of his arrest has yet to be raised.
Magomed Dukuzov hid in Ukraine. In 2017, Kyiv announced his detention. A source in Russian law enforcement bodies, however, doubted the possibility of his extradition, since Dukuzov “became a prominent figure in the criminal world of Ukraine, and the local special services need him.” In 2018, Magomed Dukuzov was released without explanation.
Former officers of the Central Internal Affairs Directorate Operational and Investigative Management Department, including one of its heads, Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, interrogated in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya, admitted to spying on Khlebnikov in 2012. It turned out that ex-Head of the Regional Organized Crime Unit of Moscow, Sergey Khadzhikurbanov, whom the investigation believes to be one of the organizers of Politkovskaya’s murder, had taken part in the surveillance together with the police officers.
The interrogation of employees of the Operational Search Department showed that in spring, 2004, leader of Lazanskaya organized crime group Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev contacted the Chechen ‘authority’ Lom-Ali Gaitukaev who was accused of murder of Politkovskaya and offered to arrange a murder of Khlebnikov. Gaitukaev asked Khadzhikurbanov for help. At the time, Khadzhikurbanov was released on his own recognizance not to leave town for official crimes.
Nukhaev’s representatives flew from Moscow to Vienna and met Gaitukaev and Khadzhikurbanov in a hotel. During their last visit, Khlebnikov was being set up a watch. For this purpose, Khadzhikurbanov found then-current employees of the Operational Search Department. Later, the same police officers tracked Anna Politkovskaya. Later, Khadzhikurbanov stated he did not need services of subordinates of Pavlyuchenkov. Brothers Magomed and Kazbek Dukuzovs and their friends were drawn for tracking down of Khlebnikov. The police officers didn’t receive anything for the work.
In the evening, on July 9, 2004, Paul Khlebnikov was shot near Forbes office on Dukukin street near Botanichesky sad metro station. The investigation believes the perpetrator of the crime is Kazbek Dukuzov.
At the present time, Pavlyuchenkov who is serving his sentence for abetting murder of Politkovskaya is in serious condition and can not bear testimonies. Gaitukaev died in a colony in 2017. Khadzhikurbanov states he is innocent and didn’t kill the reporters.
Initially, the investigation theory was that the motive of the murder of Khlebnikov was revenge for a publication of a book Conversation with the barbarian where Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev was portrayed as a criminal and a follower of radical Islamic perspective. The book was published when Nukhaev was trying to build his political career throughout the Western world and called himself a representative of legal Chechen authorities.
Another theory is that Boris Berezovsky could be involved in the crime. The book Godfather of Kremlin B. Berezovsky or History of devastation of Russia was written by Khlebnikov, as well. According to sources and intelligence services, during the preparation of murder of the journalist, Berezovsky talked to Nukhaev personally and through intermediaries. He had known Nukhaev since 1990s. After that, the investigation lost its interest in the ‘Khlebnikov case’.
Several new criminal cases against corrupt officials have been instituted in Dagestan. The high-ranked suspects include Abdulmedzhid Suleimanov, ex-Mayor of Izberbash; Amir Magomedov, ex-Head of the Izberbash Administration; Magomed Dzhelilov, Head of the Derbent District; and El’dar Karagishiev, Head of the Babayurt District. In the past, all of them were suspected of similar crimes – but somehow managed to get off the hook. The new arrests occur amid the anti-corruption campaign in the republican law enforcement structures. What are the true reasons behind the new wave of the personnel purge? Can the anti-corruption slogans conceal a fierce battle waged by local clans for redistribution of assets with the purpose to create a new ‘untouchable’ elite in Dagestan?