Politkovskaya Suspect's Photo Leaked

A photograph of Rustam Makhmudov, the man identified in media reports as the prime suspect in the 2006 killing of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, was published Tuesday on a Russian web site.

Life.ru reported that Makhmudov, 34, a resident of the Achkhoi-Martan district of Chechnya, is the main suspect in the crime and is believed to be hiding in Britain.

The web site did not say where it got the information or how it obtained Makhmudov's photograph. It added that self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky was believed to have ordered Politkovskaya's killing.

An editor at Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper where Politkovskaya worked, blasted the report as "journalistic whoring" and declined to comment further, saying it would hamper the official investigation.

"The people who give these leaks and the journalists who feed off them are not worthy of discussion," deputy editor Sergei Sokolov said by telephone Tuesday.

Novaya Gazeta has been conducting its own investigation into the murder of Politkovskaya, a reporter who antagonized authorities by publicizing human rights abuses in Chechnya.

In August, investigators arrested 10 suspects in the murder, including three Chechen brothers, Tamerlan, Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov.

Last month, prosecutors said they were actively searching for the man who shot Politkovskaya but did not give his name. Citing unidentified sources, the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda then identified him as Rustam Makhmudov, another brother from the same family.

Officials have suggested that the killing was masterminded by Berezovsky, a harsh critic of President Vladimir Putin who has received political asylum in Britain.

Berezovsky has denied any involvement in Politkovskaya's murder, and Novaya Gazeta supports his claim.