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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Happy Birthday, Mr. President

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On Oct. 7, 2006, Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in the entrance to her Moscow apartment building. And no matter how many demonstrations the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi stages on that day to honor President Vladimir Putin's birthday, it will remain the day that Politkovskaya was killed.

It would seem that, unlike the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, Politkovskaya's case will remain unsolved forever. Nonetheless, there is a fair amount that we actually know about the investigation, which is in itself surprising to some people.

The facts are as follows:

The investigation was assigned to Petros Garibyan, an investigator who has never failed to solve a case. Investigators found the car used by Politkovskaya's killers, allegedly owned by one of the Chechen Makhmudov brothers. It has been established that Federal Security Service Lieutenant Colonel Pavel Ryaguzov looked up Politkovskaya's address in FSB files one month before her murder. Ryaguzov then called his old acquaintance, Shamil Burayev, the former head of the Achkoi-Martan district of Chechnya. When the investigators realized that Politkovskaya's address was outdated, they hired police to follow the journalist. In fact, Prosecutor General Yury Chaika said there were actually two surveillance teams trailing her.

Moreover, there were two separate groups assigned to the murder -- the killers and the people responsible for conducting surveillance. The link between the groups, investigators say, is Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former operative of the police unit that focuses on ethnic organized crime groups. He is also an acquaintance of Ryaguzov.

On Aug. 13, several arrests were made in the case, but this was not made known in the media until Chaika had the opportunity to inform Putin that the case had been solved and that the murder's ringleader had fled Russia. Immediately following his report, however, information began leaking out to the public, and the investigation started to collapse. Nothing was leaked while Garibyan handled the case, but the moment the information reached Putin, leaks were released everywhere.

Those are the facts. Everything else consists of conclusions based upon those facts.

Naming Garibyan to the case was a clear signal that Putin was genuinely interested in learning the identity of Politkovskaya's murderers.

Judging by the way the killing was carried out, it was clear that the mastermind had hired professional hit men. Anybody could have ordered the murder, although it is unlikely to have been the Makhmudov brothers, Burayev or even Khadzhikurbanov. The unusual decision to involve so many law enforcement personnel in hunting down Politkovskaya suggests that people in uniform knew of the plan to murder her.

Chaika called the news conference as a public relations move to deflect attention away from the facts of the case, since rumors of the arrests had already begun to circulate in Moscow. And since the last thing the law enforcement agencies wanted was for the people to discover the facts, they threw out a classic red herring by claiming that Politkovskaya was killed by certain enemies of Russia.

Putin knows who killed Politkovskaya, but we will never solve this mystery -- at least as long as Putin is still in power.

And you know what else? Garibyan is a very savvy and experienced investigator, having survived in the politically volatile environment of the Prosecutor General's Office for some time. I have no doubt that if someone were to pin him up against a wall and demand that he reveal who killed Politkovskaya, he would repeat the official line that it was ordered by enemies of the state.

But I would not criticize Garibyan for that, because he has done more than all of the liberal press managed to do: He identified the killers and determined all the facts behind the murder case.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.