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, 06 2008

Politkovskaya case: ‘Novaya Gazeta’ breaks its vow of silence

In ‘Radio Liberty

On Victor Shenderovich’s program, ‘All are free’, the deputy editor of ‘Novaya Gazeta’, Sergei Sokolov, declared that his publication is conducting its own investigation into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and no longer intends to keep secret the information that various sources have constantly been “leaking”. Hethen proceeded to report several important details about the important case.

Sergei Sokolov: Ithink we will be seeing more and more curious statements, similar to the one made by the now out of work Mr. Dovgy. Asis well known, the head of the investigation department for the Prosecutor General’s Office, Mr. Dmitry Dovgy, was removed from his position in connection with a corruption scandal that erupted within the department. Prior to this, while still being of sound mind and at his post, he gave an interview to the newspaper ‘Izvestiya’ in which he reported the long-awaited news that everyone was killed by Berezovsky. After this a huge scandal erupted.

Therefore, we believe that any disclosure of secrets in an investigation, whether or not it was Berezovsky, calls into question the trial process itself.

If you recall the whole story, beginning with the first arrests in August last year, there has been a sea of leaks and Iam firmly convinced that they are choreographed and specifically in order that the case gets closed at this level. ThisAugust was the detention deadline, or rather, the investigative period of those being detained. Thisyear, in theory, the case was to have been sent (to defense attorneys) for familiarization, and to the court, and here the song and dance will begin. Itis clear that by this time those who ordered the murder, in the procedural sense of the word, will not be specified, and the case will most likely be divided into two parts: the first case will be about the perpetrators, then the search for whomever ordered the murder, and there are various and sundry political reasons for this, a whole lot.

Viktor Shenderovich: Everyone knows that your newspaper has conducted its own investigation.

Sergei Sokolov: For a long time we kept silent about the Politkovskaya case and, in my opinion, every journalist in the world has gotten offended and angry because we looked worse than the prosecutor’s investigators. Wehave our reasons for this. Weknow a lot about this case, and we will share this with the investigation team.

Viktor Shenderovich: But the investigation team has been leaking everything under the sun.

Sergei Sokolov: That’s the whole joy. There is no investigation team, but a multitude of chiefs of chiefs, chiefs, and assistant chiefs. Aman named Kupryazhkin, an FSB general and the head of its internal security department, made the first leak. Hetold the world that they had arrested a man named Lt. Col. Ryaguzov, even though he was not even charged in the Politkovskaya case. Actually, he messed up everything, because now they had to do some quick maneuvering since no one was supposed to know who else was arrested. Bythe way, Mr. Dovgy’s version is that Berezovsky is behind all of this. Allow me to suggest: could General Kupryazhkin be an agent of Berezovsky? IfI were head of the FSB, Iwould look into this.

Viktor Shenderovich: Then there was Chaika.

Sergei Sokolov: Chaika was neat, nevertheless. Istill believe that he should not have held a noisy press conference, but Iunderstand that this had to be done, to slam the door on this figment of the investigative committee. Still, he could have done without it. Thenthere was (the leak by) the chairman of the Moscow metropolitan court, and then another leak. Theyeven published guidance on vehicles that had not even been found yet. Thiswas been done by the police, and for obvious reasons: they have had close business relations with representatives from the various media for a long time.

But the recent revelations by Mr. Dovgy have forced us to open our mouth. Berezovsky is Berezovsky, and Mr. Dovgy’s assumptions regarding the organizer (of the murder) as being a person named Hozh-Akhmed Nukhayev deserve some attention. Ifwe carefully trace the path of Hozh-Akhmed Nukhayev and his business associates, then we discover that all of them worked under the direct control of the FSB. Youcan find out what percentage of the principal members of ‘Lazan’ (a Moscow mafia gang ed) are closely associated with such odious figures such as Max Lazovsky. There was a recent statement at the trial of one of the most interesting members of this group, a Mr. Gaytukaev. Hewas tried in Moscow for organizing a murder attempt in Kiev, and he was angry about the 15years he received so he said that while he was engaged in business in the Ukraine, he was working for the Russian security services.

Viktor Shenderovich: He said it like that?

Sergei Sokolov: That is how he said it in court. Ourboys, of course, did not react. Ascandal erupted in the Ukraine, but it quieted down they have more trouble with gas than with our intelligence agencies. Thequestion, however, remains: was the murder attempt that he was preparing, was it inside the framework of his business endeavors, or for our security services?

Viktor Shenderovich: But is Nukhayev not the same one who was connected with the Paul Khlebnikov case?

Sergei Sokolov: Yes, Nukhayev was declared to be the organizer of Khlebnikov’s murder. ThePolitkovskaya case also has many curious characters with such properties.

Viktor Shenderovich: Returning to the Dovgy interview, which he gave while still working in an official capacity. Whenhe referred to Nukhayev, he shared with us two things: Nukhayev’s name, and direct slurs made by Nukhayev against Berezovsky. Arethese two different events, from your point of view?

Sergei Sokolov: From my point of view these are two different events, because is there a formal link between Nukhayev and Berezovsky? Yes, they were partners back at AvtoVAZ, but Berezovsky, in the first place, had partnerships with anyone and everyone, from our president on down to journalists at ‘Channel One’, and he is known to all of humanity, so on this occasion to speak about him in a criminal context is strange. Withregards to the surname Nukhayev, it would be curious to see with what matters he has been connected, and with whom. How, for example, despite the fact that he was subject a multitude of manhunts, did he quietly appear in Russia in 2001at a conference organized by the Eurasia party? Andwhy is he still quietly selling oil in Novorossiysk? Heis formally on the wanted list. Ofcourse, he does not live in Russia, but Iremember a huge number of characters, ranging from Yandarbiyev, whom, if they had wanted to locate, could have been located by various means.

Naturally, the procedural time from arrest may not be enough to last all the way to the end. Iam not talking about political will. Wewill assume that it exists. Iwill hazard a guess that the separation of the case into cases against the executioners and those who ordered it, has already happened. Itis a question of emphasis. Ifan unidentified person is drawn into the trial, everyone understands that whether it is Berezovsky or Bin Laden, for example, it has now become a different story and the investigation will go in a certain direction. Butwhat if they suddenly remember Mr. Gaytukaev’s statement, and that long list of other gentlemen from the ‘Lazan’ group? Ifthey suddenly remember that, according to the Ukrainian security services, Mr. Gaytukaev really was an agent of the FSB, and really he has a registration card and really has records in that same agency, in that same department, then why was Mr. Ryaguzov put in jail? Ifthey look into this, then maybe the case will go in a different direction. Itis a question of emphasis.

Viktor Shenderovich: There is no desire to draw attention to this, for now.

Sergei Sokolov: We were not the first to begin this. IfMr. Dovgy had not revealed a secret from the investigation, then, perhaps, we would have kept our mouth shut for a long time. Now, however, we have been forced to open it. OnMonday the newspaper comes out, and there is some emphasis, if Nukhayev is Nukhayev. Thiswas a strong statement by the investigation, but let us now take a look at who is Nukhayev.

Viktor Shenderovich: Tell us what you managed to find out.

Sergei Sokolov: We managed to creatively develop a landscape of this representative from the investigative division, who is now off the case, and we looked closely at Mr. Hozh-Akhmed Nukhayev, who was effectively declared the organizer of Politkovskaya’s murder. Wegot into the wildest tangle of curious characters, all connected by one curious fact: they are criminal agents of Russian security services. Asa matter of fact, the business in which they were engaged was not so much under the nose of their curators (agents in charge ed), but under their cover. Theywent from curator to curator and quietly amassed their great fortunes, eliminating their competitors and occupying themselves in quite a lot.

Viktor Shenderovich: What years are we talking about?

Sergei Sokolov: It all began in 1988and, speaking plainly, it has not ended. Ithas long been said that the ‘Lazan’ group was put out of action, but it was not.

Viktor Shenderovich: Explain what ‘Lazan’ means.

Sergei Sokolov: It has to do with Pyatnitskaya Street in Moscow, where there used to be a restaurant named ‘Lazaniya’ (“Mountain Climbing” ed). Itwas the gathering place of those gentlemen, who back in 1988beat the Bauman forces in the Battle of New Arbat Street (back then still called Kalinin Prospect) and thus they became Moscow’s major crime bosses. Since then they started to cooperate closely with one of the most secret departments of the FSB, then headed by Mr. Hoholkov, who was investigating organized crime.

Viktor Shenderovich: Somewhere Ihave heard that name before, Hoholkov

Sergei Sokolov: It is a well-known name. YuriPetrovich Shchekochikhin looked at this in depth when he was engaged in uncovering the details of the first Moscow bombings in 1994, the undermining of the Yauza river bridge and the bombing of the #33 bus by the VNDH (Moscow Expo Center ed). Itturned out that the perpetrators were members of the Lanako firm, headed by Maxim Lazovsky, an active member of the ‘Lazan’ group. Backthen Shchekochikhin received official recognition by the law enforcement agencies. Youwill not even believe who gave him this recognition, but Mr. Kolesnikov himself! Andhe confirmed that indeed many security service officers were in Lazovsky’s gang.

Viktor Shenderovich: Undercover or in cahoots?

Sergei Sokolov: History is silent, but here (in Russia) everything is always possible to do in cahoots.

Viktor Shenderovich: According to Kolesnikov?

Sergei Sokolov: Ido not remember the exact working, but there was: “on being detained, certain persons presented papers identifying them as employees of the security services.”

Viktor Shenderovich: In developing this theme, just one small aside: Iremember that the elder Barayev, the uncle of the Barayev who went to ‘Nord-Ost’, he also traveled with intelligence officer ID.

Sergei Sokolov: The question arises: who serves whom do the criminals serve the FSB, or does the FSB serve the criminals? Arethey cooperating so closely that they get pleasure from any sort of relationship? Oneneeds to get to the bottom of this story in order to answer the question about who it was that killed Anna Politkovskaya. Thisis what needs to be worked out: who was working for whom in this situation, the criminals for the FSB or the FSB for the criminals?

Viktor Shenderovich: Is there any kind of data, besides these general reflections, besides these links that are well known, or at least well known to you?

Sergei Sokolov: Yes, of course, there are, only Ihave no right to go into detail because Istill hope that these details will all be examined in court.

Viktor Shenderovich: The court should be interested in it, and prove it, and law enforcement should also prove it.

Sergei Sokolov: It turned out that they themselves have set out to do this, by arresting in the Politkovskaya case several officers from the Interior Ministry and the FSB. Itis not just Ryaguzov sitting there in jail there are other comrades sitting in jail. Ican guess that Garibyan’s investigation team, which is working on the Politkovskaya case, is not given to doubts and it is ready to untangle the story.

Viktor Shenderovich: Yes, but one must separate the investigators from the supervisors. Muratov, here in the Radio Liberty studio, said that: we must separate Pyotr Garibyan’s wonderful group from his multiple chiefs.

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