By LAURA MILLS, Associated Press
MOSCOW (AP) — The son of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya on Tuesday criticized the authorities' deal with a former police officer accused of involvement in her 2006 killing, saying it wouldn't help to determine who ordered the murder.
Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who is accused of helping track Politkovskaya's movements, is set to go on trial Wednesday after reaching a deal to assist investigators. The suspected triggerman and four others accused of involvement in the killing will be tried separately.
Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on Oct. 7, 2006. The investigators have failed to determine who ordered the hit.
The journalist's son, Ilya Politkovsky, said Pavlyuchenkov's deal would put him on a fast track with the authorities waiving questioning of the necessary witnesses. He would also qualify for a reduced sentence.
"I would like Pavlyuchenkov to appear together with all the participants of this criminal group, so that his testimony will be examined in the court . not in a closed court procedure where he won't give testimony but instead will simply confess his guilt, and that will be all," Politkovsky said.
The investigators have completed a probe of the suspected triggerman, Rustam Makhmudov, and four others, but no trial date has been set.
Makhmudov's two brothers and another former Moscow police officer stood trial, charged with helping stage the killing, but were acquitted in 2009. Russia's Supreme Court overruled the acquittal and sent the case back to investigators.
The failure to bring the mastermind to justice has rankled journalists and human rights activists.
Politkovskaya was killed on the birthday of Vladimir Putin, who was serving his second presidential term at the time, and that helped fuel speculations about possible involvement of authorities angered by Politkovskaya's reports of atrocities in Chechnya.
Pavlyuchenkov has reportedly claimed hearing that that self-exiled tycoon Boris Berezovsky and Chechen separatist leader Akhmed Zakayev were behind the murder, claims that echoed earlier allegations made by officials. Both men have denied the accusations in the past.
Anna Stavitskaya, the lawyer representing Politkovskaya's relatives, scoffed at the allegations, adding that Berezovsky and Zakayev were convenient scapegoats for the government. "This is a politically motivated version of who ordered the crime," she said.
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