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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Politkovskaya Retrial Up in the Air

MTPeople commemorating five years since the end of the Beslan siege Thursday near the Chistiye Prudy metro.

A Supreme Court-ordered retrial into the murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya is up in the air after the same court ordered an expanded investigation Thursday.

The leading prosecutor in the case, Vera Pashkovskaya, said the ruling meant that the retrial, which had been scheduled to begin next week, might not occur until police arrest the suspected triggerman, whose whereabouts is unknown.

Politkovskaya’s family and supporters cautiously praised the court decision, which fulfilled their demand to unite the investigation of three suspects acquitted in the first trial with separate cases for the suspected triggerman and the mastermind.

“The court has provided the prosecutors with a chance to investigate the crime. We hope they will use it,” the family’s lawyer, Karina Moskalenko, told The Moscow Times.

She noted that next month would be the third anniversary of Politkovskaya’s murder in the elevator of her apartment building in central Moscow on Oct. 7, 2006, in a daring attack that shocked the world.

Pashkovskaya, the prosecutor, said in televised remarks that there would be “no new investigation into the three acquittals.”

She added that the retrial might start only after the suspected killer, Rustam Makhmudov, is caught. Makhmudov, a Chechen, is believed to have fled Russia.

Two of Makhmudov’s brothers, Ibragim and Dzhabrail, and former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov were acquitted in February on charges of being accomplices in the murder. A fourth defendant, former Federal Security Service officer Pavel Ryaguzov, was tried on unrelated charges as part of the same case and also walked free.

The Supreme Court’s military collegium overturned the jury’s unanimous acquittal June 25, ordering the retrial because of a number of procedural violations during the first trial. The retrial decision was left in effect Thursday.

The lawyer for Dzhabrail Makhmudov, Murad Musayev, said Thursday’s ruling indicated that prosecutors had no case against his client and did not want to return to court.

“They are just trying not to lose face,” Musayev said. “It’s a game.”

Moskalenko said investigators now had to make a genuine effort to find and prosecute all parties involved in the killing — a demand that Politkovskaya’s family has made repeatedly, most recently in early August.

“If the prosecution doesn’t find all the people involved, the court’s decision means nothing,” Moskalenko said.

Investigators have not identified the person suspected of ordering the murder.

Politkovskaya reported extensively about government human rights abuses in Chechnya. A Kremlin critic, she also criticized the government’s response to the Beslan school attack, which killed 334 people, more than half of them children. Several dozen people gathered near the Chistiye Prudy metro station in central Moscow on Thursday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the end of the three-day siege.