Russia charges nine in Politkovskaya case

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MOSCOW, Oct 17 (Reuters) Prosecutors have charged nine people, including a lieutenant-colonel in Russia's security service, over alleged involvement in the murder of anti-Kremlin journalist Anna Politkovskaya, the Interfax news agency said today.

Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in October 2006 in her Moscow apartment building. Her killing aroused international indignation and led to pressure on Putin to ensure the crime was solved.

Vyacheslav Smirnov, an official of the Prosecutor-General's office, told a Moscow city court that ''nine people have been charged in the (Politkovskaya) criminal case'', the Interfax news agency reported.

Earlier, Russian news agencies quoted a source close to the investigation as saying charges had been laid against Lieutenant-Colonel Pavel Ryaguzov of the Federal Security Service (FSB) for abuse of office.

Ryaguzov was first arrested in August in connection with another case, though his name was also mentioned by investigators working on the Politkovskaya affair.

The FSB agent allegedly passed on details of the journalist's address to another suspect, who in turn gave them to the killer, Russian agencies quoted investigators as saying.

Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika announced in August the arrest of 10 suspects in the Politkovskaya case, though none was charged at the time and some were later released.

Chaika said the killing was masterminded from abroad by anti-Kremlin forces trying to discredit Russia, though he did not offer any proof.

Politikovskaya's newspaper expressed concern when the lead investigator on the case was effectively demoted at the beginning of September, saying that Kremlin hardliners were interfering in the case.

Reuters PD GC1512

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