Chechen suspected of murdering Paul Klebnikov may avoid trial in Russia

Chechen suspected of murdering Paul Klebnikov may avoid trial in Russia
Paul Klebnikov

According to the Ukrainian security forces’ representative, there is actually no agreement on legal assistance between Russia and Ukraine.⁠

The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) has detained two Chechnya natives appearing on the Interpol wanted list. This is reported by Kommersant. One of the Chechens, detained in Kiev, is suspected of committing several contract killings, including that of the Chief Editor of the Russian Forbes Paul Klebnikov and Deputy Chairman of the Chechen Government Office Yan Sergunin. In Russia, Kazbek Dukuzov had been declared wanted in connection with these murders.

According to the SSU, Dukuzov had joined a crime group extorting money from Ukrainian businessmen.

The SSU has detained the second Chechen in the Poltava region. He had been wanted by French authorities for car thefts in the country.

Russian Forbes Chief Editor Paul Klebnikov was shot dead on July 9, 2004, when leaving the editor’s office. Chechnya natives Kazbek Dukuzov and Musa Vakhaev were charged with this crime. According to the investigation, both were members of an ethnic crime group that specialized in contract killings. The investigators thought gangland entrepreneur Khozh-Akhmed Nukhaev (based on the interview with whom Klebnikov had written a book Conversation with a Barbarian: Interviews with a Chechen Field Commander on Banditry and Islam) the person who ordered the hit. In the book, the journalist calls the businessman a bandit and an Islamic fundamentalist.

In addition, Dukuzov and Vakhaev were also suspected of being involved in the murder of former Deputy Prime Minister of the Chechen Republic Yan Sergunin on June 25, 2004. It is noted that Sergunin had provided materials about budget thefts in Chechnya for Klebnikov’s book.

In May 2006, the jury acquitted both defendants. Later, the verdict was overturned, but Vakhaev and Dukuzov were gone. The former would appear following summons, whereas the latter was declared wanted right away. Recently, witnesses have emerged in the case of Klebnikov, who linked the crime to crime lord Lom-Ali Gaytukaev, who had received a life sentence for the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. However, Gaytukaev died in prison, and it was impossible to check this lead.

The matter of the detainees’ extradition is currently being decided. Kommersant’s source in the Security Service of Ukraine notes that Dukuzov may not be extradited to Russia, since there is actually no agreement on legal assistance between the two countries. For example, the Ukrainian authorities have refused to extradite the internationally wanted co-owner of Trust Bank Ilya Yurov. The banker and other defendants of the criminal case investigated in Russia are accused of embezzling 14 billion rubles ($236 million). 

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