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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Old Case Draws New Attention

The Investigative Committee has begun re-examining the death of Yury Shchekochikhin, a liberal State Duma deputy and Novaya Gazeta journalist who died under mysterious circumstances in 2003.

Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitry Muratov received a letter from the committee Friday confirming that investigators were again looking into the case, a committee spokesman, who would not give his name, said Monday.

Last month, Muratov approached Alexander Bastrykin, the head of the newly formed committee, with a "list of unanswered questions" about the death, the spokesman said.

If investigators find signs of a crime, the case will be reopened, the spokesman said, refusing to comment on whether Muratov had provided any new information about the case.

Muratov could not be reached Monday.

"I want to note that the death of Yury Petrovich [Shchekochikhin] is an absolutely mysterious incident that raises a lot of questions," Muratov said Sunday, Interfax reported.

Shchekochikhin died two weeks after falling ill in June 2003 in a case that stumped doctors. After being denied access to medical reports, the family sent a skin sample to Britain, where tests determined he might have been poisoned.

The move by the Investigative Committee comes at a time when it is making arrests in the Tri Kita corruption scandal, which Shchekochikhin covered.

The case involved reports that the Tri Kita furniture company had paid the FSB to help smuggle goods across borders, evading customs duties.

Olga Kryshtanovskaya, a sociologist at the Russian Academy of Sciences who tracks political elites, said the move could represent a Kremlin-orchestrated cleansing of President Vladimir Putin's record ahead of elections, after which he hopes to retain significant power.

Andrei Soldatov, the editor of a security web site, dismissed suggestions of Kremlin intervention. "The most important thing is that they recognize that this was murder," Soldatov said.