Chechen police 'may have killed journalist'

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The Independent Online

Russian prosecutors are investigating whether Chechen police were involved in the killing of a campaigning journalist who exposed rights abuses in the war-battered region, an international media watchdog group said yesterday.

Chechnya's Prime Minister and the Russian Foreign Ministry denied the claim.

Leaders of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said a Foreign Ministry official told them on Monday, during a visit to Moscow, that the Prosecutor General's Office had opened a criminal investigation into several police officials in the region who may have killed Anna Politkovskaya because she was about to publish an article alleging their involvement in torture. "The Foreign Ministry stressed that this is one of several lines of investigation," Joel Simon, the CPJ's director, said.

A Foreign Ministry official gave a different account, saying that the criminal inquiry was opened by prosecutors in Chechnya who were investigating allegations of abuse that Ms Politkovskaya raised in an article published after her murder. The official said no connection had yet been established between the article and Ms Politkovskaya's killing.She was shot in Moscow in October.