We never would have thought that the trial of Anna Politkovskaya’s killers (only the co-conspirators and not the trigger man) would have been anything close to interesting, but rather just the latest chapter in Basmanny Justice, in which the FSB agents who participated in her assassination would not enjoy impunity, but could even launch political careers out of it.
Surprisingly, this has not been the case, and so far there have been some very interesting twists and unexpected turns which may suggest that there remains some disagreement in the Kremlin who shall be made to carry the burden of scapegoat. First we had the trial open to the public and media, which no one expected, but then it was suddenly closed to the public. This was followed by the practically unprecedented appearance before the media of one juror who resolutely denied the judge’s reasoning that the trial had to be closed to the public due to jurors’ requests for anonymity. Apparently this was just an invention, and today it’s been announced that the court will be re-opened.
Then today we got the big news: the defense lawyer is now claiming that the hit on the journalist was called in by a so-far unnamed Russian politician, openly rejecting the official state line that the murder was ordered from abroad to discredit the Kremlin. Perhaps more predictably, the response from the prosecutors has been an attempt to dismiss the judge, Yevgeny Zubov, whom they argue is now biased and has violated “procedural rules.”
I wonder if we’ll ever find out which politician exactly that the defense is referring to.
Photo: From left: Pavel Ryguzov, Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, Ibragim and DhzabrailMakhmudov sit behind bars at a court room in Moscow on Monday, Nov. 17,2008. The suspects being tried on murder charges are SergeiKhadzhikurbanov – a former Moscow police officer – and Makhmudov’sbrothers, Ibragim and Dzhabrail. (AP Photo/SergeyPonomarev)