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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 August 2007, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
Murder probe grips Russian press
Russian press

The arrest of 10 people including security officers over the October 2006 killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya dominates the front pages in the Russian press.

Commentators examine Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika's statement on the arrests and investigation.

Most papers appear to accept the inquiry's findings. "Politkovskaya murder solved," the government paper Rossiskaya Gazeta proclaims in a headline, while another, in Nezavisimaya Gazeta, declares the case "ready to be closed".

Mastermind abroad?

Several dailies highlight Mr Chaika's allegation that foreign hands were behind the killing, with Moskovskiy Komsomolets asking: "Was Anna 'taken out' from abroad?"

Vedomosti believes the chief prosecutor's comments are aimed at the London-based billionaire businessman and staunch Kremlin critic, Boris Berezovsky.

"The prosecutor-general's office does not know anyone else abroad," the daily quotes Mr Berezovsky as saying, in a reference to the Kremlin's accusations that he has plotted to overthrow the Russian government.

A commentator in the pro-Kremlin daily Izvestiya also leans towards the idea that enemies of President Vladimir Putin may be behind Ms Politkovskaya's killing.

He points out that the investigators now favour the theory that the murder was planned by "those who needed to maintain the image of the Russian authorities as an authoritarian regime that would stop at nothing".

"The Kremlin realised that unless this murder was finally and convincingly resolved, the whole world would be convinced that it was the authorities that removed the inconvenient journalist," he says.

'Dirty linen'

Other papers focus on the implication of several serving and former officers of the police and FSB security service.

"Chechen trail leads to police," an article in the business daily Kommersant says, while Novaya Gazeta - Ms Politkovskaya's former paper - comments: "Murder through the old boy network".

A commentator in the tabloid Trud declares himself impressed by the authorities' admission that security officers may have been involved.

"In this particular case the principle of 'don't wash your dirty linen in public' was not evoked," the article says.

Nezavisimaya Gazeta, meanwhile, writes that the theory that Ms Politkovskaya's murder was directly organised by the Kremlin has been proven "untenable".

Masterminds

But there are also sceptical voices. The chief editor of Ms Politkovskaya's former paper, Novaya Gazeta, says that while he agrees with the investigation's conclusions so far, he is worried about how the authorities will interpret them.

"We fear that the ultimate masterminds may be 'appointed'", Dmitri Muratov is quoted as saying by the Moskovskiy Komsomolets daily.

"So far we have had no guarantee that the names of the real masterminds behind the crime and the names of those who in the end will feature in the indictment will be the same", he adds.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.




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