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Berezovsky Blamed in Politkovskaya Murder

Dmitry Dovgy, a senior Investigative Committee official under investigation for possible corruption, has accused self-exiled businessman Boris Berezovsky of ordering the October 2006 assassination of journalist Anna Politkovskaya.

In an interview published Thursday in Izvestia, Dovgy said it was investigators' "deepest conviction" that Berezovsky ordered Politkovskaya's murder through reputed Chechen crime boss Khozh-Akhmed Nukhayev.

"At that time it was beneficial to [Berezovsky]," Dovgy told the newspaper, though he provided no evidence for the claim.

An Investigative Committee spokeswoman declined to say whether Berezovsky is formally considered a suspected in the case.

Izvestia said Dovgy gave the interview before he was suspended last week pending an internal investigation over allegations that he accepted almost 3 million euros in bribes.

Berezovsky denied the accusation and said he could not remember ever meeting Nukhayev, who prosecutors say ordered the 2004 murder of U.S. journalist Paul Klebnikov in Moscow.

"The person who ordered [Politkovskaya's] murder is in the Kremlin," Berezovsky said by telephone from London.

Politkovskaya, a fierce Kremlin critic who chronicled rights abuses in Chechnya, was gunned down in her central Moscow apartment building Oct. 7 2006.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika suggested in August 2007 that the person who masterminded the Novaya Gazeta reporter's murder was hiding abroad and that the crime was an attempt to discredit the Kremlin.

Sergei Sokolov, a deputy editor at Novaya Gazeta, which is conducting its own investigation into the murder, chastised Dovgy for "using [Politkovskaya] in the battle for high-level positions within the law enforcement agencies."

"This is pure beastliness," Sokolov said.

In the wake of his suspension, Dovgy appealed to the Prosecutor General's Office for help, saying his life is in danger, Vremya Novostei reported Tuesday. He wrote in the letter that he trusted neither his boss, Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, nor his colleagues, the report said.

Analysts said the investigation into Dovgy could be linked with a battle between rival Kremlin clans that seeped out into the public last year.

Dovgy's office is leading the embezzlement case against jailed Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak and Alexander Bulbov, a senior Federal Drug Control Service officer arrested in October on corruption charges.

Both cases are widely seen as inextricably connected with the power struggle between the rival factions, both of which primarily consist of current or former security service officers.

In a postscript to Thursday's interview, Izvestia wrote that the investigation into allegations of corruption against Dovgy is "extraordinarily important."

"Its results will either confirm or refute the 3 million euro bribe. And then it will become clear through which eyes to read this interview," the newspaper wrote.

Bastrykin and Chaika, whose agencies are publicly tussling in several high-profile criminal investigations, are thought to belong to rival Kremlin clans.

The Investigative Committee spokeswoman declined to comment on Dovgy's interview, though she said it had not been approved by Bastrykin.

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