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Deadline For Politkovskaya Murder Probe Pushed Back - Spokesman

MOSCOW. May 4 (Interfax) - The deadline for the investigation of the 2006 assassination of Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya has been moved back to September 7, 2011, Russian Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax on Wednesday.

At a meeting on April 20 with Dunja Mijatovic, representative on freedom of the media of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Investigative Committee deputy head Vasily Piskaryov assured the
OSCE official that the Committee was making maximum efforts to find the killers of Politkovskaya and U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov.

However, Piskaryov complained that "crime executors and accomplices who have been identified are still taking shelter abroad from Russian justice."

Crimes against journalists in Russia were the subject of the meeting.

Politkovskaya, a Novaya Gazeta investigative reporter, was killed in the lobby of the apartment building where she lived in Moscow on October 7, 2006.

Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov and former policeman Sergei Khajikurbanov were recently tried as suspects, but the Moscow District Military Court acquitted them based on a non-guilty verdict by a jury in February 2009. The court also acquitted Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Pavel Ryaguzov, who was indicted on a different count under the same case.

The Russian Supreme Court later invalidated the acquittal and returned the case to the Prosecutor General's Office to combine it with the general criminal case into Politkovskaya's murder.

In line with the Supreme Court ruling, the case against Ibragim and Dzhabrail Makhmudov, Khajikurbanov, and Ryaguzov is to be combined with a case against Rustam Makhmudov, who has been declared wanted, and other unidentified individuals, including the person who ordered the killing.

Iskandar Galimov, the head of the Russian Interior Ministry criminal investigations department said at the end of January 2010 that the law enforcement agencies had proofs that the people acquitted by the jury were in fact guilty of Politkovskaya's murder.

The Russian Investigative Committee reported on October 6, 2010, that the investigation into Politkovskaya's murder would be extended. Rustam Makhmudov is being searched for by the Russian Interior Ministry, the FSB, the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR), and Interpol. In addition, the investigation has identified possible new accomplices in Politkovskaya's murder, the Investigative Committee said.

On March 16, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin excluded the possibility of obtaining any direct evidence in the Politkovskaya case.

"It's true that we haven't had any direct evidence, but we've had an abundance of indirect evidence. We know that we won't be able to obtain any direct evidence. But we will be building up indirect evidence in volume," he said.

He added that the prosecution would use that indirect evidence in court. "We will try to convince the jury that there is other evidence besides the 'I saw-I didn't see' kind of stuff," he said.


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