Just days ago, we translated an item from Novaya Gazeta which raised questions about the possible involvement of the KGB (now known as the FSB) in the Beslan atrocity. Now, NG’s editor has testifed at the murder trial of Anna Politkovskaya’s killers that the KGB’s fingerprints are all over that atrocity as well. The Moscow Times reports:
A defendant and a key witness in the Anna Politkovskaya murder trial worked on behalf of the Federal Security Service, one of the slain reporter’s editors testified in court Friday.
Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya wrote critical reports about federal abuses in Chechnya, said the FSB was tailing the journalist before she was killed in October 2006. “It has become known to me that Dzhabrail Makhmudov was an agent,” he told the packed courtroom.
Three men are on trial on charges of participating in Politkovskaya’s murder — Chechen brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov and Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov.
Sokolov said Makhmudov’s uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev also worked for the FSB. Gaitukayev is serving a 12-year jail sentence for the attempted murder of a Ukrainian businessman. He arrived in the courtroom wearing handcuffs and accompanied by a guard.
Dzhabrail Makhmudov denied the accusation, telling the court, “I am not and have never been anyone’s agent.”
Sokolov refused to disclose his sources. Novaya Gazeta is carrying out its own investigation into the murder and is offering a reward of about $1 million for the capture of the mastermind.
Sokolov said the men’s FSB minder was FSB officer Pavel Ryaguzov, who is being tried with the defendants in an unrelated case.
Ryaguzov, however, told the court that Dzhabrail Makhmudov “was not my agent.”
Politkovskaya was being trailed separately by the FSB and by the Makhmudov brothers, Sokolov told the court. Asked if the trails were linked, he said by telephone, “So far, it’s hard to say. The FSB is not a single structure.”
When asked for comment, an FSB spokesman said, “Ask him [Sokolov], don’t ask us” and hung up the phone.
Sokolov said he had evidence that Gaitukayev had discussed the contract killing of Politkovskaya in the summer of 2006 and that the Makhmudov brothers had been at the crime scene.
“Lom-Ali recruited his nephews and several of his acquaintances to commit the crime,” he said.
Sokolov said Gaitukayev was also in contact with Kazbek Dukuzov, who was acquitted of the murder of Paul Klebnikov in 2006, and Rustam Makhmudov, a brother of the defendants who is suspected of being the triggerman in the Politkovskaya killing and is believed to be living abroad.
Separately, Gaitukayev said in court that he had heard from investigators that the killers were paid $2 million, defense lawyer Andrei Litvin said. The court was closed to journalists while Gaitukayev gave evidence because prosecutors said he might reveal state secrets.
Litvin, the lawyer of Khadzhikurbanov, also told journalists outside the courtroom that his client had been pressured by investigators to confess that the murder was ordered by self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky for a payment of 4 million euros ($5 million).
Berezovsky has denied any link to the killing. An Investigative Committee spokeswoman said she could not comment on the Politkovskaya case.