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Europe

Russian Politician Ordered Politkovskaya Murder, Claims Lawyer

A defense lawyer for the four men charged with murder in the death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya said that a Russian politician ordered the killing.

Portrait of Anna Politkovskaya

Slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya was critical of the Russian regime

That revelation came Tuesday, Nov 25 at the same time that the court announced the ongoing trial would be open to the public.

Defense lawyer Murad Musayev told reporters that the unnamed politician, based in Russia, was mentioned in the case files. And also, that the politician ordered her killing because he was angry about her criticism of then President Vladimir Putin and his government.

Politkovskaya was critical of Russia's policies and human rights abuses during the war in Chechnya.

She was shot dead outside her Moscow house in 2006 and prosecutors had suggested that someone outside Russia had ordered the killing in an attempt to embarrass and discredit the government.

No faith in the legal process

Defense lawyers sitting in front of the defendents cage at the murder trail of journalist Anna Politkovskaya

The defendants heard the accusation from behind bars


The murder of Politkovskaya, who wrote for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, shocked the international community but did not have the same impact in Russia.

The slain journalist's supporters believe state security agents were involved in her murder -- and for that reason, they say, there will never be a fair trial at Moscow's military court. They have long expressed scepticism over the legal process and complained that none of the four defendants being tried is charged with the actual killing.

Voice of critics silenced

Portrait of Alexander Litvinenko

Former KGB spy Litvinenko died of poisoning in 2006

Politkovskaya had also said that she believed she was poisoned when she went to Beslan to cover the school siege in 2004. And former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was investigating her death when he was murdered by poison with the radioactive isotope polonium-210 in London two years ago.

She was the 13th journalist to be murdered in a contract-style killing in Russia during Putin's period as president, according to the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Putin was succeeded by Dmitry Medvedev in May after serving the maximum two consecutive terms in office.

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