Image: Anna Politkovskaya
Dmitry Saltykovsky  /  AFP - Getty Images file
Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya taking part in a conference in Moscow in 2005. Investigators named a suspect Monday in her fatal shooting in October 2006.
updated 5/12/2008 2:20:50 PM ET 2008-05-12T18:20:50

Russian investigators on Monday named the man they suspect of killing journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in Moscow in 2006.

The Investigative Committee, which probes such crimes, said Rustam Makhmudov was "the immediate executor of the murder," adding in a statement that he remained at large. Makhmudov, a 34-year-old resident of Chechnya, has been charged and an international arrest warrant has been issued for him, it said.

Politkovskaya was shot to death in her central Moscow apartment building in October 2006. Many observers and colleagues believe her murder was linked to her work: She wrote dozens of articles detailing abuses by Russian troops during the Chechen conflicts.

Nine people have been charged with involvement in her murder. Two of the suspects, Magomed Dimelkhanov and Dmitry Grachyov, have been released on condition they stay in the country because, according to the committee, they had given all the evidence possible and did not pull the trigger.

The release of Dimelkhanov and Grachyov appeared to raise eyebrows at the Prosecutor General's Office, which said the Investigative Committee had "broken routine practice" by failing to notify it.

The Investigative Committee added that some other suspects could be released soon.

Among the detained suspects are three other Makhmudovs reported to be brothers of Rustam — Tamerlan, Dzhabrail and Ibragim.

Politkovskaya's former colleagues at the twice-weekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which is running a parallel probe, have blasted the authorities for deliberately undermining the investigation by releasing details of the case before it gets to court.

Russian officials have alleged that Politkovskaya's killing was ordered by someone living outside Russia with the aim of discrediting the Kremlin — statements that have been interpreted as allusion to Boris Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider who lives in London and is a fierce Putin critic.

Berezovsky, who is wanted in Russia on embezzlement and other charges, all of which he denies, has said he had nothing to do with Politkovskaya's death. Novaya Gazeta investigators have said the mastermind is likely in Russia.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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