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Leak of fear
Written by Сергей Соколов   
Вторник, 01 Апрель 2008
Anna Politkovskaya’s alleged killed was warned that there was a warrant for his arrest


On Saturday, March 29th, there was another attempt to prevent the investigation of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder: they published the full name of the alleged killer before his arrest. The purpose of information leakage is clearly to warn the killer.
Also released were the names of other characters that could be questioned by investigators for complicity in the murder of our journalist. The aim is also clear: interested parties are doing everything possible to prevent these them from talking.

‘Novaya Gazeta’ has no doubt that this was all done intentionally: even a law enforcement intern would not to divulge such information, being aware of possible consequences. Especially since this case is not the first. Last autumn the media was suddenly made aware of the name of Shamil Burayev just before he was arrested in the Politkovskaya case. Back then it was only due to the skill of police operatives that the suspect did not escape.

This time the leak was better organized. On Friday, March 28th, at a hearing of the (Moscow) military district court, they considered the issue of extending of the detention of one of the defendants in the case, FSB officer Pavel Ryaguzov. Prosecutor Smirnov, in justifying the investigators’ petition, said that the investigation has made a lot of progress, and even the killer’s identity was known. (Special note: Smirnov, naturally, did not name the killer.)

As a matter of fact, what Smirnov said was not news: in October of last year during an interview in ‘Novaya Gazeta’, the leader of the investigative team, Pyotr Garibyan, already mentioned it. For obvious reasons, neither the investigator, nor ‘Novaya Gazeta’, named the alleged killer, even though it has long been known.
Virtually everyone in the media, however, took Prosecutor Smirnov’s statement as a revelation in the Politkovskaya case. During the ensuing media storm, the name of the alleged killer ended up being mentioned.

We cannot but note two things. Just as in the Burayev case, the leak was timed to occur immediately after the issue of arrested FSB officer Ryaguzov was examined by the military district court.

The second point: the alleged killer was already wanted, but in another case. That same week a warrant was supposed to be issued seeking the alleged killer for questioning in the Politkovskaya murder case. This means that the leak was not “from the ground”, that is, not from some rank and file interior ministry officer, as was the case with the mistaken publication of data on a wanted vehicle a few days before the discovery of a green Lada 4-series. Since the information was still at the highest levels, this means the killer’s name could only have been released either by someone exercising operational support of the investigation, or someone who attended high-level meetings on the case.

We are often asked: How is the investigation proceeding? Judging from how they hurry to interfere with it, one may guess that it is going well. And so much so that someone is beginning to get a little uncomfortable.

P. S. Investigative team leader Pyotr Garibyan reported to ‘Novaya Gazeta’ that his team is considering seeking an internal investigation into the leaks.

Sergey Sokolov
In ‘Novaya Gazeta’
March 30th, 2008

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