Wie vermoordde Anna Politkovskaja?

Is masturbatie en schaamte de werkelijke achtergrond van de moord op Anna Politkovskaja?  kadyrov_en_putin.jpgIzvestija pakt uit met de moord: een vertaling vindt u onder de vouw. (Met dank aan de Johnson List) In kort bestek: Izvestija speculeert dat de dader  uit de omgeving van Ramzan Kadyrov komt, de sterke man van Tsjetsjenië. De aanleiding is dan een artikel van Politkosvkaja op 20 maart. Daarin analyseert zij een met mobiele telefoon opgenomen video waarin de vrome moslim Ramzan (stomdronken?) in een banja tekeer gaan met twee hoeren.

Op een gegeven moment komt een jongeman met zwart baseballpetje binnen, het soort petje dat de moordenaar van Politkovskaja ook droeg. (Er bestaat een surveillance-video van de moordenaar, die Politkovskaja schaduwt in supermarkt Ramstore) De jongeman praat met Kadyrov, laat zijn broek zakken en mastubeert. Politkovskaja stelde in haar artikel van 20 maart dat Kadyrov de jongeman daartoe dwong, hem vernederde. Maar haar artikel, zo speculeert  Izvestija, was een nog veel grotere vernedering voor de jonge Tsjetsjeen. Dus ging hij naar Moskou om zijn eer te wreken.

masturbator.jpgIk vermoed dat het over deze orgievideo gaat, maar die houdt op  voordat de jongeman met de baseballpet binnenkomt. Het filmpje oogt verder hoogst authentiek. Deze pro-Tsjetsjeense website heeft de video in omloop gebracht. En hier een still van Kayrov en de masturbator: inderdaad met wat Abu Ghraib-achtige ondertonen. 

Nou, mooi verhaal. Izvestija komt nog met een hele rij alternatieve verdachten; net als die beledigde Tsjetsjeen bevinden zij zich laag op de sociale ladder. De naar Londen verbannen zakentycoon Boris Berezovski, die in een vete met Poetin is verwikkeld, zoekt de dader daarentegen bij voorkeur in de allerhoogste regionen: Poetin, het Kremlin, de FSB of toch ten minste Kadyrov.

Daarmee komen we op de recente vergiftiging van Aleksandr Litvinenko, een naar Londen gevluchte FSB-agent die werkt voor Berezovski. Litvinenko vertelde iedereen dat Kadyrov achter de moord zit. Dat vermoedt ook Politkovskaja’s krant Novoja Gazeta: Kadyrov zou een doodseskader naar Moskou hebben gestuurd om drie mensen te doden. Politkovskaja was doelwit nummer één, doelwit twee stierf dit weekeind, doelwit drie is een ex-burgemeester van Grozny.

Ook Litvinenko onderzocht de moord op Politkovskaja. Na tal van loze beschuldingen tegen Poetin stond hij een beetje bekend als een windbuil. Maar het feit dat hij nu in een Londens ziekenhuis voor zijn leven vecht wegens een thallium-vergiftiging heeft zijn geloofwaardigheid vergroot. Litvinenko is vergiftigd voor of tijdens een lunch met een Italiaans contact dat informatie had over Politkovskaja. killer.jpg

Dit alles in de week dat de nieuwe James Bond in première gaat. De lange arm van de KGB? Of gewichtigdoenerij? In The Guardian oppert een Russische analist dat Litvinenko zichzelf vergiftigde ‘als een soldaat die zichzelf in de voet schiet’. Dat lijkt mij met thallium nogal riskant, hoewel sommige mensen alles doen voor publiciteit en ik onlangs las over Russische soldaten die thallium rookten en als talkpoeder gebruikten, en dat nog overleefden ook. 

Nog meer speculatie: zakentycoon Berezovski besloot dat zijn weinig nuttige voetsoldaat Litvinenko (half)dood meer waard was dan levend. Ook vergezocht, hoewel: waar Berezovski komt, vallen doden. 

Rook, spiegels, speculatie. Jammer dat onderzoeken naar geruchtmakende moordzaken zelden veel verder komen in Rusland.

Politkovskaya Murder Possibly Linked to Man in Bathhouse Video

Izvestia
November 17, 2006
Report by Vladimir Perekrest: “Who Took Revenge on Anna Politkovskaya?”

According to General Prosecutor Yuriy Chayka,
several hundred people have already been
interrogated, more than 300 hours of videotape
has been watched, and more than15 expert
examinations scheduled. Izvestiya tried to
analyze the theories, among which are some very
unexpected ones. For example, we found at least
one man in a black baseball cap who had a serious
motive for killing the journalist.

The Man in the Black Baseball Cap

Immediately after Anna Politkovskaya’s murder
both journalists and investigators began looking
for persons who wished her ill. The list of
people she had “offended” was vast -- from
Chechen Premier Ramzan Kadyrov and Murat
Zyazikov, the president of Ingushetia, to
rank-and-file police officers and prosecutors.
However, this list did not include only people
named in her articles. At least one person who
was not widely known had solid grounds to hate
the journalist. This was a certain young man in a
videotape that Politkovskaya wrote about in the
article entitled “Video of the Premier in
Chechnya,” which was published in Novaya Gazeta on 20 March of this year.

It was a matter of three scenes shot on the video
camera of a mobile telephone. In one a crowd of
people is beating up members of the federal
military forces. The final picture shows three
bodies lying motionless face down in the dirt
while someone continues methodically kicking one
of them in the head as if it were a soccer ball
(a criminal case has already been opened based on
this video). The second scene shows a man who
looks like Ramzan Kadyrov directing a crowd that
is cramming two people into the trunk of a
Zhiguli. In the third a man who looks like
Kadyrov is enjoying himself in the bathhouse. It
was this video that interested us.

In the picture the man is embracing a girl in a
scarlet bra. There is another woman in the
background. There is music, shrieking, and loud
laughter. Then a thin young man in a greenish
sweater and a black baseball cap appears on the
screen. The man who looks like the premier of
Chechnya approaches him and, smiling, says
something. The man in the black baseball cap
drops his pants and begins to masturbate. Male
laughter and squealing noises are heard. The
ladies run off. The man who looks like Kadyrov
distractedly films the “session” on the mobile phone.

Politkovskaya writes that the man in the baseball
cap was forced into “dropping his pants”
(Politkovskaya omitted the details) against his
will. However, it is hardly possible to claim for
sure that the man was forced. No one makes any
menacing gestures toward him or threatens him. It
appears that he is doing everything of his own
free will. He even seems to smile -- that is how they entertain themselves.

Immediately after these videos appeared Ramzan
Kadyrov declared that he was not the man shown.
We showed the videos to experts, but they could
not give a definite answer, whether it was the
Chechen premier in them or not. The picture
quality was too poor. But it is obvious that
whoever was in the video, these pictures were not
intended for a broad audience. The folks were
enjoying themselves they way they wanted -- keep
it quiet. Completely unexpectedly the pictures
become public property. The man in the baseball
cap was held up as a laughing stock. For a proud
and self-respecting Chechen (and there is no
other kind of Chechen) to find himself in such a
situation is like death. Only blood can settle the score.

If we compare the face of the presumed killer of
Politkovskaya that was taken by the video camera
in the entryway with the face of the man from the
bathhouse, it turns out that they are similar. Of
course, with correction for the fact that both
video pictures are of poor quality. Both are
wearing baseball caps with long, bent visors.
Both are thin, and the outlines of their heads,
their figures, and their posture coincide… By
the way, why doesn’t this man take his cap off in
the bathhouse? That kind of behavior is typical
of people who are shy about scars or other skin damage.

“It is true that they have something in common,”
an associate of one of the forensic expert
centers in Moscow acknowledged in conversation
with Izvestiya. “But the pictures are too indistinct.”

If the theory that it was a revenge killing out
of shame is correct, Politkovskaya’s death
becomes doubly tragic. She was not the one who
made the video, and she was not the one who
released it for public viewing! Five days before
the article in Novaya Gazeta, mention of these
videos and still shots from them appeared on the
Newsru.com and Compromat.com websites. But they
gave a reference to the primary source, the
Daymohk website, which belongs to the Chechen
separatists and is physically located in Canada.
And possibly, by doing this they unknowingly
diverted the strike away from themselves.

Moreover, few people paid any attention to the
“bathhouse” video until Anna Politkovskaya told
about it in her commentary. Most likely it was
only after reading her article that interested
people began looking for the scandalous video,
which is not hard to find. There is Internet in
Chechnya too. And in the republic the “hero” of
the video, the man in the baseball cap, is most
likely recognizable. It is one thing for guys to
fool around in the bathhouse, but it is something
entirely different if you are shown naked to the
entire republic, the entire country.

“Live in Peace. I Don’t Need You”

However, let us go back to the start of the
investigation. One of the first theories put out
by journalists was a connection between Anna
Politkovskaya’s murder and the case of the
Nizhnevartovsk police officers who went through
service in Chechnya in 2000-2001. This same
theory was also one of the first that the
prosecutor’s office took up, sending two investigators to Nizhnevartovsk.

Let us recall that on 2 January 2001 26-year-old
Groznyy resident Zelimkhan Murdalov was grabbed
off the street by associates of the Khanty-Mansi
consolidated detachment. He was beaten to death
in the building of the Oktyabrskiy Rayon internal
affairs department, where the detachment was
stationed, then his body was hauled away while
they wrote in the log that Murdalov had been
released. His remains have not been found to this
day. For this crime Senior Lieutenant Sergey
Lapin (radio call name “Kadet”) got 11 years in a
colony. His two superior officers -- lieutenant
colonels Valeriy Minin and Aleksandr Prilepin (in
Chechnya he was still a major) -- have already
been on the international wanted list for six months.

During the workup of this theory the
investigation inevitably must face questions:
what was the role of Anna Politkovskaya’s
articles in the fact that this case made it to
court? The relatives of the late Zelimkhan
Murdalov are convinced that without the
intervention of Politkovskaya the police officers
would never have been brought to accountability.

“If it had not been for Anna, they never would
have been tried,” Astemir Murdalov, the father of
the victim, told Izvestiya. “When she was in
Chechnya, I met with her and told her about our
misfortune. Then her article ‘Vanishing People’
came out just two weeks later. After that the
investigation became noticeably more active.”

Politkovskaya wrote about 20 articles about this
case and talked about it on radio and television.
She found an attorney for Murdalov’s parents.
This was Stanislav Markelov, who is known for
getting a guilty verdict against Colonel Budanov.
The organization Amnesty International paid the
attorney’s fees at Politkovskaya’s request.

Later when Politkovskaya began to receive
threatening letters it became clear that she had
made mortal enemies by her participation in this
case. But what was in those letters? The first
came by e-mail on about 15 September 2001, five
days after the article “Vanishing People” came
out (Sergey Lapin was still free at that time).
“There is reliable information that an operative
of the criminal investigation department whose
personal call name is Kadet… There is evidence
that he has in his possession a rifle and intends
to visit the city of Moscow. Do you know why the
disgraced associate of the OVD (internal affairs
department) is coming to Moscow?” The electronic
address of the sender was kadet@email.ru. After
this Politkovskaya was given a police guard.

Another letter arrived later from the same
address: “You have 10 days to publish a
retraction of your article ‘Vanishing People,’ or
the police officer you hired as a guard will not
be able to help you. Respectfully, Kadet.”

According to attorney Stanislav Markelov, this
letter frightened Politkovskaya so much that she
immediately went to Austria for several months.
The third (and last) message arrived more than a
year later, on 21 October 2002. It came by
regular mail, in an envelope, two hand-written
pages. “Live in peace. I don’t need you. And I
wrote to you for lack of anything better to do,
just joking,” the letter said. Then, under the
title, “Repentance,” came two dozen lines written
in imitation of Tatyana’s letter to Onegin: “I
write to you, what is more…” And the signature “Kadet, Pyatigorsk.”

These letters were presented during Lapin’s
trial. But he said that he had nothing to do with
them, and the prosecution was unable to prove otherwise.

“We didn’t really go after him,” said attorney
Stanislav Markelov. “The main thing is that they
took Lapin seriously and put him in jail.”

As Izvestiya discovered, the investigators
working on the Politkovskaya murder case are now
interested in the letters. They even visited
Lapin’s colony. But he had an airtight alibi -- he was behind bared wire.

Suspicion of involvement in the murder could fall
on Valeriy Minin and Aleksandr Prilepin.
Politkovskaya pointed to them as accomplices in
the murder of Murdalov. This was confirmed during
“Kadet’s” trial, and after the verdict a criminal
case was opened against both of them. As soon as
recognizances were taken from them the policemen went into hiding.

“They have been on the federal wanted list since
February,” Izvestiya was told by Chechen
prosecutor Valeriy Kuznetsov. “Then we got
operational information that they were in
Kazakhstan, so in May we put them on the
international wanted list, like Shamil Basayev.
But in August we got information that they were
in Nizhnevartovsk again. Our associates went there, but did not find them.”

It is curious that Prilepin recently gave an
interview to Rossiyskaya Gazeta in which he said
that the case against him is fabricated and that
Politkovskaya was killed by people who want to
unsettle the situation in the country. The theory
that Minin and Prilepin were involved has serious
drawbacks. While on the wanted list it would be
extremely risky to sneak into Moscow to commit a
murder. Especially when after this their status did not change at all.

Two other police officers figured in
Politkovskaya’s articles: detective Vyacheslav
Zhuravlev, who originally interrogated Murdalov,
and Valeriy Kondakov, former commanding officer
of the composite detachment. According to
Zhuravlev, however, he was on duty on the day of
the killing. Kondakov is also calm.

“No one has asked me any questions about the
Politkovskaya murder. You are the first,” Valeriy
Kondakov told I zvestiya. “And the people from
the General Prosecutor’s Office have not met with me.”

Anna Politkovskaya’s Last Trip

In all the recent years Politkovskaya’s work was
connected with the Northern Caucasus. Perhaps an
analysis of her last trip to the region in early
August can throw light on this mysterious
killing. Shortly before the trip Dmitriy Muratov,
editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, said that he
was going to “transfer” Politkovskaya from the
Northern Caucasus subject area and not send her
to that region any more. He made it understood
that Politkovskaya’s hard-nosed anti-Kadyrov line
did not suit him. “I told Anna that she needed to
change topics,” the editor-in-chief admitted after Politkovskaya’s death.

But his ban was violated. The last trip took
place precisely when Muratov was not in Moscow.
But according to Sergey Sokolov, deputy
editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta, she did not go
without authority -- the editorial board approved Politkovskaya’s trip.

The key article from the trip, entitled “Laying
Down Arms, the Subtraction of Kadyrov,” was about
progress with the amnesty for fighters.
Politkovskaya’s conclusion was that amnesty was
being sold for money. But this was not the only subject that interested her.

Politkovskaya flew from Moscow to Spetsovskaya
Airport in Ingushetia, where she was met by
Astemir Murdalov. She spent 24 hours in
Ingushetia, during which time she gathered
material for two major articles. On 24 August,
after she had already returned, the article
entitled “In the Northern Caucasus Attorneys Are
Intervening in Irreversible Proceedings” came
out. Politkovskaya accused Konstantin Krivorotov,
one of the most highly decorated investigators in
the General Prosecutor’s Office in the Northern
Caucasus, and his subordinates of getting
confessions by torture. The torture was described
in detail, the victims were quoted, and later
some of them were able to prove their innocence.
Two weeks later Krivorotov was asked to write a
letter of resignation at his own request.
According to some reports an official
investigation “of instances of fabrication of a
number of criminal cases that had ‘public resonance’” was begun against him.

The second note from Ingushetia was about the
investigation of embezzlement of budget capital
appropriated for the victims of flooding in 2003.
Politkovskaya wrote that “the threads run to the
very top of the official pyramid” and hinted that
relatives of Murat Zyazikov, the president of
Ingushetia, were involved in this.

 From Ingushetia Politkovskaya Went to Chechnya

“She was here three or four days,” Astemir
Murdalov told Izvestiya. “She stayed with me. As
I understood it, she came because of the letters
about embezzlement and unlawful conviction. She
had many such appeals. I drove her in my car
several times, but mostly private drivers drove
her around -- she had several regular cab
drivers. We went to the mother of one of the men
convicted in Groznyy. There was another meeting
with a Russian woman whose husband was Chechen.
They had kidnapped her daughter. We went to her
in the town of Katyr-Yurt. Her name is Lyubov
Petrovna. Anna talked with her for about three hours…”

On 17 August Politkovskaya’s article titled “The
Umbrella That Gathers Raindrops” came out. It
said that Milana, Lyubov Petrovna’s daughter (her
last name is Dubas), was the widow of a Wahhabite
fighter and a so-called “agent” of Maskhadov --
she distributed cassettes of his speeches. On 19
January 2004 Milana was taken from her home by
“people in camo clothes” and since then her
location has been unknown. The article hinted
quite transparently at the involvement in this of
a certain FSB (Federal Security Service)
associate Mikhail Yevseyev, who served two years
in this rayon. While he was there, Politkovskaya
writes, 21 people were kidnapped, and after he left -- just one.

In addition, during this visit to Groznyy
Politkovskaya met with Buvadi Dakhiyev, deputy
commanding officer of the Chechen OMON (swat
team) who was killed a month and a half later in
a gun battle between Chechen OMON officers and
Ingush police at a checkpoint between the two republics.

“When they killed him she wrote a big article
about him,” says Murdalov. “But in general she
did not talk about what her conversations with
people covered. She would sit in the evening
writing in her notebook. She did not have a
computer with her. After Chechnya Anna went to
Dagestan. My son-in-law drove her to Khasavyurt.
She was interested in the case of a certain human rights worker…”

He may have been referring to Dagestani human
rights worker Osman Boliyev, who she first wrote
about in February of this year. Dagestani police
supposedly found him in possession of a grenade,
but in court Boliyev was able to prove that the
grenade had been planted. On 18 May Boliyev was
acquitted, but a new criminal case was quickly
opened -- this time the charge was possession of an automatic weapon.

“On 4 July Politkovskaya called me and said that
in materials about Nord-Ost that she had obtained
there was a report that Boliyev was allegedly one
of the organizers of that terrorist act,”
Izvestiya was told by Svetlana Gannushkina, human
rights worker and chairwoman of the Civil
Assistance Foundation. “Anna said, ‘He must be
gotten out immediately.’ We sent him to Moscow
right then, and on to Ukraine, and then the whole
family was sent to Sweden. The office of the UN
High Commissioner for Refugees quickly adopted an
appropriate decision. Thanks to Anna, in
mid-August he was already there. In general, in
recent years nothing of the paparazzi was left in
her. As she worked on the problems of human
rights, Anna changed very greatly in her
psychology. Therefore she did not report this
‘hot news’ to the press, but made the decision to save Boliyev.”

Who Got the Bandit’s Pistol?

Judging by sparse information from sources close
to the investigation, the prosecutor’s office has
been able to manage just one real success so far.
Ballistics experts were recently able to identify
the gun that killed Anna Politkovskaya. It turns
out that this pistol was already known: in the
mid-1990s it was used in a criminal showdown to
kill a fighter of one of the “brigades.”
According to operational information, the gun
belonged to one of the members of a Caucasian
ethnic group that was based in Moscow. It is
possible that it was a member of this group who
carried out the order to eliminate Politkovskaya.
But it is not impossible that this pistol had
already “left” its previous owner. It could have
been sold (that is often done with guns that have
been identified) or it could have fallen into the
hands of a different criminal group as a trophy.
And it could also have ended up in the hands of police associates.

Commenting on this theory, an associate of the
internal security department of the RF Ministry
of Internal Affairs who wished to remain unnamed,
said, “Such a thing, of course, happens quite
rarely … During some special operation the
associates of the criminal investigation division
or the subdivisions for fighting organized crime
discover a gun but do not formally record it and
keep it for themselves, just in case.”

Time will tell if this one piece of evidence
helps pick up the trail of the killers.