World News

Politkovskaya, Klebnikov murders linked-prosecutor

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The group suspected of killing journalist Anna Politkovskaya may also have been linked to the 2004 murder of U.S. reporter Paul Klebnikov, Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika said on Monday.

Chaika said the group suspected of killing Politkovskaya was led by an ethnic Chechen organised crime boss and included serving law enforcement officers.

“The group was headed by a leader of a Moscow criminal group of Chechen origin,” Chaika told a news briefing. “We have evidence that this group took part in the killing of Paul Klebnikov ... Unfortunately, this group included retired and acting interior ministry and FSB (Federal Security Service) officers.”

He said the same group might have been behind the murder of central bank deputy chief Andrei Kozlov and his driver. One man is in jail awaiting trial for Kozlov’s murder.

Chaika said Politkovskaya’s killing -- and several other high-profile crimes -- were orchestrated from abroad in an attempt to discredit Russia’s leadership and destabilise the country.

“The person who ordered the (Politkovskaya) killing is abroad,” said Chaika, although he refused to say who it was.

“Our investigation has led us to conclude that only people living abroad could be interested in killing Politkovskaya.

“Forces interested in destabilising the country, changing its constitutional order, in stoking crisis, in a return to the old system where money and oligarchs ruled, in discrediting national leadership, provoking external pressure on the country, could be interested in this crime.

“Our investigations showed that this was not the first such attempt -- a number of previous murders were similar provocations.”