Letter: Highlanders Whacked Politkovskaya

I haven’t given an update on the investigation of Anna Politkovskaya’s murder in a while. The problem is that there have been few new developments. Given the Russian authorities track record in solving journalists’ deaths, we shouldn’t hold our breath. Nor should we be so quick to substitute dramatic fantasy for truth. For example, Kommersant is reporting that the head of the Movement for Human Rights Lev Ponomarev received a letter implying that “Movladi Baisarov’s Highlander special division, FSB agents and Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov were involved in her killing.”

Ponomarev told Kommersant that the letter was received at the electronic address of his organization, and he forwarded it to Novaya gazeta and other media outlets. The letter is allegedly written by former members of the Highlander division – Timur from the village of Kirov, Aslambek from the Lenin state farm, Imran Kurkaev, Adam “the Dentist” and Roman Karnukaev from Samashek. They say that Kadyrov suspected Baisarov’s brother, who was assassinated, of being involved in the killing of his father, president of Chechnya Akhmat Kadyrov. Therefore, Ramzan Kadyrov distanced himself from Baisarov, although some of his fighters defected to Kadyrov. They committed Politkovskaya’s murder, the letter says, after being shown her apartment building by an FSB officer named Dranets. After they returned to Chechnya, they were killed as well, and their bodies burned. After that, Basiarov, who knew about the operation, was killed.

And the Apollo moon landing was shot on a CBS back lot. As if Politkovskaya’s apartment was a secret! It’s not like she lived in the Batcave. I don’t think even soap operas have more dramatic plotlines. Unsurprisingly, there are some quick to slurp up the letter’s veracity. As for the people who actually knew and worked with Politkovskaya, they were far from hoodwinked. Kommersant adds,

Journalists at Novaya gazeta did not consider the letter news. “Other members of the staff and I received similar letters several times,” said the newspaper’s military reviewer Vyacheslav Izmailov. “Their authors have accused Baisarov, Kadyrov and even Boris Berezovsky. I am familiar with the text of the letter received by Lev Ponomarev. In my opinion that information has nothing to do with the truth.” The text of the letter can be found at the Chechen separatist website kavkaz.tv. The press service of the president of Chechnya called the letter “nonsense” and refused to comment further.

Now I don’t doubt Kadyrov’s involvement but I would actually like to see some evidence first. Because if he is behind her murder, some pretty indefatigable proof will be required to nab that gangster.

All that said, I’m looking forward to reading Politkovskaya’s posthumous A Russian Diary A Journalist’s Final Account of a Country Moving Backward when it is published late May.