During the first hearing for the case, retired police officer Lt. Col. Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov appeared as a witness for state prosecutors. Now, however, he has become a suspect. Investigators believe he may have accepted payment from "a person whose identity is still unknown" for organizing the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Russian news agencies on Tuesday.The Moscow Times describes Lt. Col. Pavlyuchenkov as "a mumbling secret witness for prosecutors at a failed trial into her killing".
The suspect is also believed to have arranged for the alleged murderer Rustam Makhmudov to receive money, a pistol and a silencer to complete the act in 2006. Arrested in late May of this year in Chechnya, Makhmudov stands accused of having shot Politkovskaya in the elevator of her apartment building some 5 years ago.
But police remain uncertain who might have commissioned Pavlyuchenkov to arrange the killing, the spokesman said, adding that he appears to be just one link in a chain of those involved.
Investigators believe that Pavlyuchenkov arranged the murder of Politkovskaya, a Novaya Gazeta reporter who was shot dead in her apartment building in downtown Moscow, after being contacted by the mastermind, the committee said in a statement Wednesday.Well, now, I wonder who that "mastermind" could be. The Investigative Committee's statement [in Russian]states that revealing that information is deemed to be premature.
The committee did not specify the price of the contract killing but said it "has information about the alleged mastermind of the crime." No details were available.
The committee said Pavlyuchenkov assembled a team to carry out the killing. Earlier reports said the team comprised three Chechen brothers with the surname Makhmudov — Rustam, Ibragim and Dzhabrail — and a former officer with Moscow police's anti-mafia department, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.
Pavlyuchenkov, who served as chief of a Moscow police investigative unit at the time, ordered his police subordinates to trail Politkovskaya to "determine her daily routes around the city," it said.
He is also suspected of procuring the gun used by the suspected triggerman, Rustam Makhmudov, who spent five years on the run in Europe but was arrested in May upon his return to Chechnya.
The other two Makhmudovs are accused of helping track Politkovskaya, while Khadzhikurbanov is considered a middleman in the case.
The case against the three fell apart when a jury acquitted them in 2009. But the Supreme Court overturned the verdict, prompting a new investigation, which is in progress.