Five years after the murder of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in Moscow, the identities of the presumed killers are now known. A picture is emerging of a web of intrigue involving the Chechen mafia, shadowy intelligence agents and a corrupt police officer with a gambling addiction.The journalists try to unravel all the different strands in Chechnya and Russia but wonder whether any of the big shots (if I may use that word in this context) will receive the sort of punishment they deserve.
After his arrest in August 2007, Lieutenant Colonel Ryaguzov admitted that he had obtained the journalist's home address from an intelligence database for a middleman. He later revoked his statement. He was released and is still on the FSB's payroll today.No, this is not the Soviet Union, let alone its Stalinist manifestation, but the system is now considerably worse than the Tsarist autocracy was, certainly in the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
In a country with an independent judiciary and a vital democracy, ties between the criminal underworld and law enforcement agencies would have led to hearings before parliamentary subcommittees, public protests and high-level resignations. In Russia, however, even many investigative journalists and most opposition politicians are too afraid to speak out about the Politkovskaya murder.
Thanks to the research done by Novaya Gazeta, the case is now being revisited in a second trial. It is clear that a single killer could not have been behind the murder. It was too carefully and professionally prepared for that. It is unclear, however, who exactly hired whom. Did Russian intelligence agents hire the Chechen mafia, or did the mafia hire the intelligence agents? The identity of the person who ordered the killing also remains a mystery.
The Chechen trail peters out in Achkhoy-Martan, where a poster sings the praises of the autocratic Kadyrov. Politkovskaya had accused him of committing torture and murder. In 2006, she called him a "coward armed to the teeth."
No one seems eager to examine the possible connections between Kadyrov's men and the mafia group in Achkhoy-Martan, which prepared the murder together with Lieutenant Colonel Pavlyuchenkov. Even Novaya Gazeta isn't sending its Caucasus expects to Chechnya anymore to look into the case. "Since my mother died, Chechnya has been a blank spot on the map," says Politkovskaya's son Ilya. "No one dares to report from there anymore."