Reporter's Kin Slams Media Leaks

The family and colleagues of murdered reporter Anna Politkovskaya on Wednesday demanded an inquiry into leaks to the media that they said risked scuppering efforts to prosecute her killers.

Among their complaints is a leak that identified the suspected murderer as Rustam Makhmudov before his identity had been officially released.

"I think that certain employees of some special service structures are deliberately trying to sabotage the case," said Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor at Novaya Gazeta, where she worked.

"If that leak had not happened the killer would be sitting in prison," he said, adding that the newspaper wanted a criminal case to be opened over the leaks.

A lawyer for the family said they had submitted a demand for an inquiry to the Investigative Committee, which is leading the investigation into Politkovskaya's murder. "We see from the media that these sources are in the system of the law enforcement agencies. We demand that the source of the leaks be found and that a special probe be carried out," said Anna Stavitskaya, the Politkovskaya family lawyer.

The Investigative Committee said Tuesday that the killer was in Western Europe. Ekho Moskvy radio reported that Moscow had asked Belgium to extradite him.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said Wednesday in St. Petersburg that he did not know where the suspect was but that an international warrant had been out for his arrest since 2001 for crimes he had committed in Russia.

It was unclear how the suspect had managed to leave Russia and travel over the past seven years.

The Prosecutor General's Office and the Investigative Committee declined immediate comment Wednesday and did not respond to written inquiries.

Prosecutors last month announced they had completed their investigation into the murder and had charged three men, who are in detention, with involvement in the killing. Politkovskaya, who was critical of the Kremlin and exposed human rights abuses in Chechnya, was shot dead Oct. 7, 2006, outside her Moscow apartment.