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Russia's litany of unsolved murders

By Artyom Krechetnikov
BBC Russian Service

The number of unresolved, high-profile murders in Russia over the past 15 years paints a dismal picture of the work of Russia's law-enforcement organisations and its judiciary.

Of the 12 most infamous killings, only two have been solved.

Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev told journalists earlier this year that Russia was "moving in the right direction" in combating contract killings.

Yet many Russian MPs believe corruption and a labyrinthine bureaucracy are to blame for poor investigations and the frequent failure to secure justice.

Below is a list of 12 of the most high-profile cases in Russia.

DMITRY KHOLODOV, JOURNALIST - UNSOLVED
Dmitry Kholodov, file pic
Dmitry Kholodov was killed in October 1994 by a briefcase bomb

The first high-profile killing in the so-called new Russia was of Dmitry Kholodov, a journalist with a Moscow tabloid newspaper.

He was killed in October 1994 by a briefcase bomb.

Kholodov had been investigating corruption in the army.

Prosecutors said the assassination was organised by a group of six people led by the head of the intelligence service of air-borne forces.

In June 2003, Moscow's military court cleared the defendants, citing a lack of evidence.

VLADISLAV LISTYEV, TV PRESENTER - UNSOLVED
Vladislav Listyev, file pic
Vladislav Listyev was shot dead at point-blank range

A popular TV presenter, Vladislav Listyev was killed in Moscow in March 1995, only 34 days after becoming director of Russia's Public Service Television.

The killer waited for Listyev at the entrance to his block of flats and fired two shots at point-blank range.

No one has ever been arrested.

Commentators say Listyev was targeted due to his attempts to make advertising at the channel more transparent.

MIKHAIL MANEVICH, GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL - UNSOLVED
Mikhail Manevich, file pic
Mikhail Manevich was shot dead as he travelled to work

Mikhail Manevich was a 37-year-old senior official in St Petersburg, and friend of Anatoly Chubais, who organised Russia's disastrous "loans-for-shares" privatisations in the 1990s.

Manevich was shot in the morning of 18 August, 1997, on his way to work.

Bizarrely, although the case has never officially been solved, on the anniversary of the crime in 2005, Mr Chubais announced that Manevich's killers "had been found".

LEV ROKHLIN, RETIRED ARMY OFFICER - SOLVED
Lev Rokhlin, file pic
Rokhlin was killed with a gun he was awarded for his military career

Lev Rokhlin was a former lieutenant-general who fought in Afghanistan and the first Chechen war from 1994-1996 - famously condemning its brutality.

He was assassinated on the night of 3 July, 1998, at his dacha near Moscow.

He was shot in the head with a gun he had received as recognition for his military achievements.

In November 2000, a court convicted Rokhlin's wife, Tamara, of her husband's murder and sentenced her to eight years in prison.

Her supporters insist the security services were behind the murder.

GALINA STAROVOITOVA, LIBERAL POLITICIAN - UNSOLVED
Galina Starovoitova, file pic
Galina Starovoitova was shot dead near her home in Saint Petersburg

Galina Starovoitova was an MP and one of the leaders of Russia's democratic movement as well as a human rights activist and international relations specialist.

She was shot dead near her St Petersburg home on 20 November, 1998.

In 2005, a court sentenced the "technical organiser" of the killing, Yury Kolchin, and the gunman, Vitaly Akinshin, to long prison terms.

But who ordered the murder - and why - remains unknown.

In September 2009, the case was re-opened because of "new developments".

AKHMAD KADYROV, CHECHEN LEADER - UNSOLVED
Akhmad Kadyrov, file pic
Kadyrov died in a 2004 bomb attack at a Grozny stadium

Akhmad Kadyrov died on 9 May, 2004, when a bomb exploded at a stadium in the Chechen capital, Grozny. He was 52.

He was the leader of the pro-Moscow Chechen administration and former mufti of the self-proclaimed Republic of Ichkeria.

In the first days of the second Chechen war, he moved to the federal forces' side.

Officially, the case has not been resolved, but his son Ramzan Kadyrov, current president of Chechnya, says he has killed everyone involved in his father's death.

ANDREI KOZLOV, BANKER - SOLVED
Andrei Kozlov, file pic
Andrei Kozlov's is one of the few killings to have been solved

Andrei Kozlov, the 41-year-old first deputy director of the Central Bank of Russia, was shot at close range on the evening of 13 September, 2006, while getting into his car.

On 13 November, 2008, Alexy Frenkel, a former head of VIP bank, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for organising the assassination.

Alexy Polovinkin, who pulled the trigger, was sentenced to life in prison.

Three months before the crime, the central bank had taken away Frenkel's licence.

ANNA POLITKOVSKAYA, JOURNALIST - UNSOLVED

A columnist for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and well-known human rights activist, Anna Politkovskaya was shot on 7 October, 2006, at the entrance to her block of flats on Moscow's Lesnaya Street.

Anna Politkovskaya (file image)
Russia's top court has ordered a new effort to catch Politkovskaya's killers

For many years, the main theme of her work had been Chechnya.

In August 2007, a Moscow court ordered the arrest of 10 suspects in connection with her death. But the majority of them were later freed.

A Moscow police officer and two Chechen brothers stood trial for the murder, although a third brother, who was suspected of being the gunman, disappeared.

The three were acquitted by a jury in February 2009, and have since been sent for retrial.

But Russia's Supreme Court also ordered a new effort to catch those who planned and carried out the killing.

Lawyers say the case against the three suspects in custody will now be halted and merged with the hunt for the killer and alleged mastermind.

THE YAMADAEV BROTHERS, CHECHEN LEADERS - UNSOLVED
Sulim Yamadaev, file pic
Sulim Yamadaev was shot dead in a parking lot near his home

A former State Duma deputy from Chechnya, Ruslan Yamadaev was shot dead in central Moscow in September 2008.

His brother Sulim, a former Russian military commander of the "Vostok" battalion formed of contracted Chechen soldiers, was killed on 28 March, 2009 in Dubai.

He was shot dead in a parking lot near his home.

The brothers were members of an influential clan that virtually controlled Chechnya's second-biggest city, Gudermes.

When the second Chechen war broke out in 1999, the brothers switched sides and joined Russia's federal forces.

Their relations with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov had become tense in the years before their deaths.

MERKELOV/BABUROVA, LAWYER/JOURNALIST - UNSOLVED
Anastasiya Baburova,file pic
Baburova was gunned down in broad daylight near the Kremlin

Moscow lawyer Stanislav Markelov, 34, and 25-year-old Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasiya Baburova were shot and killed in broad daylight by a masked gunman on Prechistenka street, near the Kremlin.

Markelov worked on several human rights cases, some in connection with Chechnya, and had received several phone threats from extreme Russian nationalist groups.

The main areas of Baburova's journalistic interests were neo-Nazis and skinheads.

Both murders remain unsolved.

ADILGIREI MAGOMEDTAGIROV, POLITICIAN - UNSOLVED
Adilgirei Magomedtagirov, file pic
Magomedtagirov was shot dead by a sniper after a wedding

Dagestan's 53-year-old interior minister, Adilgirei Magomedtagirov had a reputation for being a fierce opponent of Islamic radicals.

He was killed on 5 June, 2009, in the region's capital Makhachkala.

He was shot by a sniper near a restaurant where he had been celebrating the wedding of a colleague's daughter.

The killer used a specialist rifle and rounds commonly used by Russia's special forces.

The investigation has so far been fruitless.

NATALIA ESTEMIROVA, CHECHEN RIGHTS ACTIVIST - UNSOLVED
Natalya Estemirova, file pic
Estemirova's body was found riddled with bullets in Ingushetia

A Chechen human rights activist, journalist and employee of the human rights group Memorial, Natalya Estemirova was kidnapped on 15 July, 2009.

Several hours later, her body was found riddled with bullets on a roadside in neighbouring Ingushetia.

She was 50 years old.

The crime remains unsolved.



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SEE ALSO
New Politkovskaya probe ordered
03 Sep 09 |  Europe
Vow to catch Chechnya assassins
16 Jul 09 |  Europe
No outcry over Russian killings
07 Feb 09 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Russian murder suspect charged
17 Jan 07 |  Europe
Russian officers cleared of murder
26 Jun 02 |  Europe

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