FILE PHOTO: Khadzhikurbanov is escorted into a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow FILE PHOTO: Khadzhikurbanov is escorted into a glass-walled cage before a court hearing in Moscow 

Man jailed for murder of Russian journalist pardoned for fighting in Ukraine

One of the men convicted over the 2006 murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya has been pardoned after fighting in Ukraine. His release comes as many questions remain unanswered about the death of the investigative reporter.

By Stefan J. Bos  

Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, a former Moscow police officer, was meant to remain behind bars until 2034.

He was one of five men convicted for the high-profile murder of Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter and vocal critic of Russia's war in Chechnya.

But the 20-year prison sentence he received was cut short.

On Tuesday, his lawyer confirmed that Khadzhikurbanov had received a presidential pardon after completing a six-month military contract to fight in Ukraine. Russia has been using prisoners in the war, which it still calls a special military operation, since invading Ukraine in February last year.

Khadzhikurbanov had been serving time in prison since 2014 following a lengthy investigation and trial into the death of one of Russia's most prominent and outspoken journalists.

Politkovskaya was shot dead in a lift in her block of flats in central Moscow on October 7, 2006, leaving behind loved ones and shocked colleagues.

Her reporting for Novaya Gazeta newspaper won international renown for her brave investigations of Russian abuses in Chechnya.

Critical stories

But her pieces, which were highly critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, then serving his second term, and the Chechen leadership, angered authorities, including the Kremlin.

Amid mounting pressure to find the suspects, the now-released Khadzhikurbanov was found guilty of providing logistical support for the murder.

During the murder trial in 2014, Rustam Makhmudov was given a life sentence for pulling the trigger. His uncle Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, one of those found guilty of organizing Politkovskaya's murder, was also jailed for life.

Makhmudov's two brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim, were sentenced to 14 and 12 years in a penal colony.

Yet, it has never been determined who ordered the killing.

Critics suggested that the Kremlin was behind the murder, but President Putin has denied wrongdoing.  

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

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14 November 2023, 17:22