07MOSCOW4226, SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN POLITKOVSKAYA CASE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW4226 2007-08-29 02:28 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXYZ0481
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMO #4226/01 2410228
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 290228Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3350
INFO RHMFISS/FBI WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MOSCOW 004226 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR INL/AAE KIMMEL AND CARROLL, EUR/RUS WATSON, 
GLANTZ, SOLOMON, SIMAKOVSKY, FINKELSTEIN, L/LEI FOR 
DAUGHTRY AND GUTHERIE, DRL FOR CORKE,DOJ FOR OPDAT/LEHMANN, 
NEWCOMBE AND ALEXANDRE, OIA FOR BURKE AND DITTOE, OCRS FOR 
OHR AND OTT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/28/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KJUS KCRM PHUM RS
SUBJECT: SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN POLITKOVSKAYA CASE 
 
REF: A. MOSCOW 02361 
     B. MOSCOW 01933 
     C. MOSCOW 01477 
 
Classified By: Political Counselor Alice Wells for reasons 1.4(b) and ( 
d) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  On August 27, Prosecutor General Yuriy 
Chayka announced that ten people had been arrested for 
participation in the October 2006 murder of journalist Anna 
Politkovskaya.  Chayka alleged that the murder was committed 
by an organized crime group, and claimed that a known but 
unnamed person outside of Russia had ordered the murder  to 
"discredit the leaders of the Russian state and to provoke 
external pressure on Russia."  Chayka also implied that the 
murder may have been connected to other high profile murders 
such as journalist Paul Klebnikov's.  Prominent press 
coverage contains widespread speculation about the validity 
of charges, the identity of the person who commissioned the 
murder, and the motive.  Many, including Politkovskaya's 
newspaper and family, have been pleased with the 
professionalism of the investigation, while casting doubt on 
efforts to implicate a foreign hand in the commissioning of 
the murder.  Absent a thorough review of the court documents 
and evidence, none of which are yet available, we are unable 
to assess the validity of the charges, but believe that 
progress has been made in one of Russia's most sensational 
crimes.   End Summary. 
 
The Arrests - What We Know 
-------------------------- 
 
2. (C) Politkovskaya was murdered on October 7, 2006, near 
her apartment in Moscow.  On August 27, Chayka publicly 
stated the following: 
 
- Ten people have been arrested for participation in 
Politkovskaya's murder; 
- Formal charges against the ten will be presented soon; 
- The murder was planned in a thorough manner and included 
two "surveillance groups" whose activity was coordinated by 
the leader of a Moscow crime group of Chechen ethnicity; 
- The Chechen who coordinated the murder has been living in 
Moscow, is involved in criminal business, specializes in 
arranging contract murders and is not connected with the 
current situation in Chechnya or its governing structures; 
- The group responsible for the murder includes former and 
current members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) and 
a member of the Federal Security Service (FSB) who surveilled 
Politkovskaya and provided information about her movements to 
the killers; 
- The motive was to "discredit the leaders of the Russian 
state and to provoke external pressure on Russia" 
- The same criminal group committed a series of other murders 
with the same goal; 
- The person who commissioned the murder lives outside of 
Russia, was acquainted with Politkovskaya and met with her on 
more than one occasion. Chayka did not provide the names of 
those arrested, identify the person who had commissioned the 
murder or explicitly tie the Politkovskaya murder to the 
Klebnikov murder or any other specific murder. 
 
3. (U) The investigation has dominated the news in Russia 
today, with the story leading every major television newscast 
and appearing above the fold on the front pages of 
Kommersant, Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Komsomolskaya Pravda, the 
Moscow Times and others.  Reports relying on unnamed sources 
from the General Procuracy and defense lawyers identified 
eleven suspects, of whom at least ten have been arrested: 
 
  - Aleksey Berkin       - Magomed Dimelkhanov 
  - Dmitriy Lebedev      - Akhmed Isaev 
  - Tamerlan Makhmudov   - Sergey Khadzhikurbanov 
  - Dzhabrail Makhmudov  - Dmitriy Grachev 
  - Ibragim Makhmudov    - Pavel Ryaguzov 
  - Oleg Alimov 
 
The newspaper "Your Day," reported the three Makhmudovs are 
brothers of Chechen ethnicity, that two are suspected of 
carrying out the murder and the third is suspected of 
organizing it. Some press reports have identified Ryaguzov as 
the FSB officer. 
 
4.(C) The press has also been rife with speculation about who 
commissioned the murder. Relying on Chayka's statement that 
the person who commissioned the murder lives overseas and the 
possible link to the Klebnikov murder, many accounts have 
identified Boris Berezovskiy and Khozh Akhmed Nukhayev as 
likely candidates. (Note: Berezovskiy and Nukhayev were both 
the subjects of unflattering books by Klebnikov. In 2005, the 
General Procuracy charged Nukhayev with commissioning 
Klebnikov's murder as revenge for the book. However, because 
of his fugitive status, he has never been brought to justice 
and none of the evidence against him has been publicly 
disclosed. In April, a representative of the General 
Procuracy told us that the Procuracy has information that 
Nukhayev is located in Azerbaijan and is working to extradite 
him to Russia. (REF B) End Note.) 
 
Public Reaction 
--------------- 
 
5. (C) Reaction to the investigation has been largely 
positive, although most observers discount or withhold 
judgment on the GOR's implication that the murder was ordered 
by persons outside Russia.  Aleksey Simonov, President of the 
Glasnost Defense Fund, expressed satisfaction at what he 
called a "professional, thorough, and discrete 
investigation." "This is the first serious professional 
investigation of a journalist's murder," he told us. The 
accused "seem to be the mechanism that was used to kill 
Politkovskaya," he said, "but the conclusions that Russian 
officials have made about who ordered the killing are at best 
unfounded, and most likely false."  Politkovskaya's family 
issued a brief statement that while not questioning the 
results of the investigation, raised concerns that the 
premature release of information could jeopardize bringing 
some suspects to justice. 
 
6. (C) In a brief August 28 conversation, Novaya Gazeta 
(Politkovskaya's newspaper) Deputy Chief Editor Andrey 
Lipskiy told us that the paper's staff was surprised by 
Chayka's announcement, which he speculated could have been 
designed to steer the investigation "where some in the 
Kremlin would like it to go."  Lipskiy said that the NG staff 
had been pleased with the professionalism of the 
investigation to date, and had refrained from publishing 
information they had independently developed in order not to 
compromise the investigators' work.  Lipskiy was not 
surprised by some of the suspects named subsequent to 
Chayka's announcement, but he suggested that the evidence to 
date, at least the evidence developed by the newspaper, does 
not point to a foreign connection. 
 
7. (C) Chief Editor Sergey Sokolov, Novaya Gazeta's liaison 
with the GOR law enforcement organs on the Politkovskaya 
case, told us separately August 28 that his conversations 
with the General Procuracy in the wake of Chayka's 
announcement had suggested that at least some of those 
responsible for the investigation had perhaps come under 
pressure to bring the case to closure, which had prompted the 
"premature" announcement by Chayka.  Sokolov suggested that 
the announcement might also be traced to competition within 
the General Procuracy in advance of an Office re-shuffle that 
he predicted would occur in early September.  Conversations 
with law enforcement contacts had convinced Sokolov that 
Chayka's announcement had not, in the end, pre-judged the 
outcome of the investigation.  He pointed to an August 28 
article on the case published by the official news service 
RIA Novosti as evidence that at least some of those 
responsible for the investigation were attempting to put the 
lid back on. The RIA Novosti piece urged that the media 
exercise restraint in reporting on developments in the 
investigation, a request which, in Sokolov's reading, seemed 
to be at odds with Chayka's sensational announcement. 
 
Klebnikov Connection? 
---------------------- 
 
8. (C) On August 27 and 28, Embassy Resident Legal Adviser 
(RLA) discussed the Politkovskaya arrests with Klebnikov 
family lawyer, Larissa Maslennikova. Maslennikova stated that 
she had spoken to Igor Myasnikov, a senior investigator in 
the General Procuracy with responsibility for both the 
Klebnikov and Politkovskaya cases. Myasnikov refused to 
provide her additional information about the Politkovskaya 
arrests, but did not deny a possible link between the two 
cases. Maslennikova cautioned that without an opportunity to 
review the evidence in the Politkovskaya case, it is 
impossible to draw any conclusions about the validity of the 
charges or a possible connection to the Klebnikov case. She 
also noted that Procuracy investigators had previously told 
her several months ago that they had evidence indicating that 
the Klebnikov murder had been arranged by a Moscow 
"dispatcher" who specialized in taking orders for contract 
murders and then farming these jobs out to different hit 
teams (REF A). She  speculated that this might be the 
connection between the cases. 
 
Next Steps 
----------- 
 
9. (C) Under Russian law, the General Procuracy must formally 
charge those arrested   within  5 to 15 days, depending on 
the circumstances under which they were arrested. Due to the 
dearth of available information about the circumstances of 
the arrests, it is impossible to know exactly when the 
charges will be presented.  Typically, after the presentation 
of initial charges, the investigation continues for a period 
not exceeding 18 months. Upon completion of the 
investigation, the investigator presents the complete case 
file   to the defendants, their counsel, the victim and 
victim's counsel for review. After the review is completed, 
the investigator drafts a final indictment and the case file 
is sent to court for trial. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
10. (C) Absent a thorough review of the evidence and meetings 
with the investigators, we are unable to draw conclusions 
about the validity of the charges, but the evidence suggests 
that real progress has been made. It is also important to 
remember that a possible link to the Klebnikov murder (or to 
other recent high profile murders) does not necessarily mean 
that the same person ordered the murders. Rather, as 
Maslennikova suggested, the link, if there is one, is likely 
at the level of the "dispatcher," or other middlemen. The 
extensive publicity that this case is generating nearly a 
year after her murder is remarkable and demonstrates the high 
level of public and government interest in the case. 
Burns

Wikileaks

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