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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ex-Defense Minister Testifies in Trial For Reporter's Murder

Former Russian Defense Minister Pavel Grachev testified Monday in a trial of the accused murderers of a journalist investigating corruption in the military, independent NTV television reported.

Grachev, who served as defense minister from 1992 to 1996, is the highest-ranking official to be called to testify in the politically charged trial for the murder of Dmitry Kholodov, a 27-year-old reporter for the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets.

Kholodov was investigating allegations of corruption in the army's intelligence service in October 1994 when an anonymous caller told him he could find evidence in a briefcase stored at a train station. Kholodov retrieved the case, and when he opened it at his office, it exploded, killing him and wounding a colleague.

Six men, including five former military intelligence agents, went on trial for the murder last year.

Investigators have suggested that the defendants interpreted Grachev's complaints about Kholodov's articles as a command to murder him, according to Russian media reports.

NTV said that Grachev, who lost his Cabinet post amid broad public outrage over corruption and low morale in the military, declined to speak to reporters as he left the Moscow military court.

Itar-Tass said Grachev was questioned for more than an hour and a half, but it did not provide any information about his testimony. Afterward Yevgeny Podkolzin, former commander of the airborne troops, took the stand, the agency said.