Ex-Cop in Politkovskaya Case Claims Knowledge on 2 Other Murders

Former Moscow police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, sentenced to 11 years in prison for his involvement in the 2006 murder of journalist Anna Politikovskaya, said he knows people involved in two other high-profile killings, a news report said Wednesday.

Pavlyuchenkov claims to have information on the murders of editor-in-chief of Russian Forbes Paul Khlebnikov in 2004 and of editor-in-chief of a Tolyatti newspaper, Alexei Sidorov, who was stabbed to death a year earlier, Kommersant reported.

Pavlyuchenkov's lawyer, Karen Nersisyan, confirmed that his client is cooperating in the murder investigation of Alexei Sidorov.

"As far as I know, the investigators are working on this case, as well as the murder of Paul Khlebnikov, because the same people could have been involved," he said.

The Investigative Committee did not comment on the matter.

According to Pavlyuchenkov's testimony, the suspects, whose identities remain undisclosed, belong to a group controlled by Chechen-born Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, who is also accused of organizing Politkovskaya's murder on Oct. 7, 2006.

Pavlyuchenkov said the men told him in 2003 that they had been sent to "punish" a journalist in Tolyatti, but that they killed him instead because he "unexpectedly put up strong resistance," Kommersant reported.

Pavlyuchenkov added that they told him the masterminds were extremely unhappy because they did not want the journalist killed.

In 2004, he says, the same people took part in the murder of Paul Khlebnikov, the editor-in-chief of the Russian edition of Forbes.

Anna Stavitskaya, a lawyer representing Politkovskaya's children, said that by cooperating with the investigation Pavlyuchenkov is trying to receive a reduced sentence.

"I cannot rule out that he is only trying to improve his own situation," Stavitskaya said.

On Oct. 9, 2003, Alexei Sidorov, editor-in-chief of Tolyattskoe Obozrenie newspaper, was stabbed 15 times and died at the scene from his wounds.

Investigators believe that he was killed because of his professional activities. He was actively investigating an embezzlement scheme that saw 2,323 vehicles stolen in 1994-1995 from AvtoVAZ during business dealings with LogoVAZ, then headed by Boris Berezovsky, Kommersant reported.

Paul Khlebnikov was shot and killed on July 9, 2004 as he left his office in Moscow.

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