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Suspect in Russia journalist murder hiding in Western Europe: investigator

[JURIST] The man suspected of killing Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary; JURIST news archive] has fled to Western Europe, an investigator at the Russian Prosecutor General's Office [official website, English version] said Tuesday. In May, Russian authorities named Chechen Rustam Makhmudov as the main suspect in the murder, charging him in absentia [Moscow News report] and issuing an international warrant for his arrest. In June, authorities formally charged [JURIST report] Sergey Khadzhikurbanov and Rustam's brothers Dzhabrail and Ibragim Makhmudov in connection with the murder while the search for Rustam continued. Investigators said they know which country Rustam is in, but declined to specify. Reuters has more. RIA Novosti has local coverage.

Politkovskaya wrote for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta [media website, in Russian], and had reported extensively on the conflict between the Russian army and separatist forces in Chechnya beginning in 1999. She was shot [JURIST report] in the head and chest after returning to her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006. She was a well-known critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin [official website; JURIST news archive], and authored two books on Chechnya. Russian Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika [official website] has said that Politkovskaya's murder was orchestrated by a Moscow-based Chechen criminal group specializing in contract killings.

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