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Russian exiles 'behind killing of journalist'

A former policeman arrested over the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya has claimed that London-based anti-Kremlin exiles were behind her murder, according to a Russian newspaper report yesterday.

Kommersant claimed that Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a former policeman who is accused of forming the group of killers and providing the murder weapon in the case, has said exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky and Chechen politician Akhmed Zakayev, both based in the UK, had ordered the hit. Friends and former colleagues of Ms Politkovskaya expressed extreme scepticism at the suggestion.

Mr Berezovsky said he would not comment on the allegations until Russian authorities made them officially, while Mr Zakayev said that he had never spoken to or seen the alleged organisers of Ms Politkovskaya's killing.

Ms Politkovskaya was a reporter for Novaya Gazeta, the opposition-minded Russian newspaper that is part-owned by Alexander Lebedev, financial backer of The Independent. She was known for her fearless reporting of torture and human rights abuses, and was shot dead in the entrance to her central Moscow apartment block in 2006.