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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Politkovskaya Murder Suspect Denies Guilt

A police officer sought by authorities in connection with the killing of Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who uncovered abuses against civilians in Chechnya, has denied allegations of his involvement in the murder.

Alexander Prilepin told state-owned Rossiiskaya Gazeta in an interview published Saturday that he and his colleagues had been angered by Politkovskaya's reports, which he called unfounded, but added that he had never thought about taking revenge.

Politkovskaya, who exposed killings, torture and other abuses against civilians in Chechnya, was gunned down in her apartment building in Moscow on Oct. 7. The gunmen have not been found and the murder set off a chorus of protest from foreign governments and international organizations.

News reports said investigators traveled to the Khanty-Mansiisk autonomous district to check the allegations that Prilepin and another police officer wanted for alleged crimes in Chechnya could have been involved in Politkovskaya's murder.

Following a series of Politkovskaya's articles exposing police atrocities in Chechnya, one of the officers whom she accused of abuses, Sergei Lapin, was implicated in e-mail threats against the journalist. In 2001, Politkovskaya fled to Vienna after receiving warnings that Lapin was intent on revenge.

Lapin was detained in 2002 and later sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in Chechnya.

Prilepin, speaking to Rossiyskaya Gazeta from an undisclosed location, insisted that neither he nor colleagues of his who are also being sought by authorities had anything to do with Politkovskaya's murder.

"I wouldn't conceal that most of my comrades, who had been in Chechnya and lost their friends and colleagues there, had been angered by the media providing ideological support for the rebels and casting us as butchers," Prilepin said in a reference to Politkovskaya's articles.

"But no one has ever had any plans to take revenge on journalists. Moreover, it's completely unclear why we should remember the old grievances now and decide to take revenge after so many years."

Prilepin said he had been hiding from the authorities not because he was guilty, but because he feared a biased trial in Chechnya at the hands of local, Kremlin-backed authorities.

Last week also saw a former security service officer claim that he might have been poisoned by a man who had sought to meet him, saying he had documents related to the death of the journalist.

Alexander Litvinenko, a former Federal Security Service officer who has been granted asylum in Britain, was quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation on Saturday as saying the documents contained the name of an individual who might have been related to the killing of Politkovskaya.

Litvinenko said he met the man and took the documents from him at a London restaurant on Nov. 1. Several hours later, Litvinenko felt sick and was hospitalized with symptoms suggestive of poisoning. The former officer said he would hand over the documents to police and to Novaya Gazeta when he recovered.

(AP, MT)