President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Thursday "progress" in the inquiry into the attack on Kommersant reporter Oleg Kashin and pledged to name the assailants soon.
But this may be a bolder statement than it seems, as bloggers, including Kashin himself, said earlier that pro-Kremlin youth may be behind the November beating that sent the journalist into a coma for five days.
Medvedev had to field questions about Kashin during a trip to the Moscow Multimedia Art Museum, recently reopened on the downtown Ulitsa Ostozhenka. He held a meeting with arts personalities during the visit.
"I talked to the head of the Investigative Committee this morning, and there is progress [in the case], but I can't talk about it," Medvedev told writer Sergei Shargunov, a friend of Kashin's.
He refused to elaborate, but promised that the findings will be made public, photographer Ilya Varlamov, who attended the meeting, reported on his Twitter.
Media analyst Alexander Morozov wrote on his blog Wednesday that the investigators have linked the attack to followers of Vasily Yakemenko, chief of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs and founding father of two pro-Kremlin youth movements.
But the investigation cannot proceed without a political green light, Morozov said. He cited an unidentified colleague with Kremlin ties as his source of information.
A Yakemenko spokeswoman later dismissed the allegations as "absurd," but Kashin wrote on his own blog Wednesday that he supported the "Yakemenko version."
"I don't believe my case is so hard to solve," he wrote, adding that the political implications are the only likely explanation for the "silence" of the investigators.
Medvedev had not made clear his position on the Yakemenko version Thursday.
The attack on Kashin, 30, who was savagely beaten with metal rods near his home in downtown Moscow, was linked to his work, but investigators have identified no suspects so far. Bloggers speculated earlier that the Khimki town administration or Pskov region Governor Andrei Turchak, both criticized by Kashin, could have been behind the assault.