Gennady Pavlyuk, 51, was thrown from the sixth floor of an Almaty building in December 2009 with his arms and legs bound. He died in a hospital six days later.
At the June 6 hearing in Almaty, one of the defendants, former Kyrgyz State Committee for National Security agent Aldayar Ismankulov, pleaded not guilty and said the whole case is politically motivated.
Ismankulov said he was framed by political groups in Kyrgyzstan who want to reap political dividends from Pavlyuk's death. He added that Omurbek Tekebaev, the leader of Kyrgyzstan's Ata-Meken (Fatherland) party, had an interest in framing him.
Tekebaev, in a telephone interview with RFE/RL, rejected Ismankulov's accusation as groundless. He said Pavlyuk was assassinated by individuals acting on orders from the Kyrgyz leadership that was toppled in April 2010.
Two other defendants, Kazakhs Almaz Igilikov and Shalqar Orazalin, were expected to testify on June 7.
A Pavlyuk relative declined to comment to RFE/RL on the case, saying he feared for his safety.
Pavlyuk's relatives and colleagues in Kyrgyzstan have alleged that his murder was politically motivated. But Kazakh investigators claim the killing was an ordinary crime and had nothing to do with politics.
Pavlyuk, an ethnic Russian, was known in Kyrgyzstan under the pseudonym Rustam Ibragimbek. He founded the "White Steamer" newspaper and website. He also wrote for the newspaper "Vecherny Bishkek" (Evening Bishkek) and the Russian weekly "Argumenty i fakty."
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