He has now offered something of an explanation why.
Medvedev invited former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a part owner of "Novya gazeta," and the newspaper's editor in chief Dmitry Muratov, to a meeting in the Kremlin today to discuss the case.
After the meeting, Muratov spoke to Andrei Shary of RFE/RL's Russian Service about what the president had to say:
I find Medvedev's reasoning here a little bit puzzling. Would a public statement of condolence for the victims' families, for example, have unduly biased the investigation? How about a statement calling on law-enforcement to bring the those behind the killings to justice, wherever the trail may lead?
A couple of other nuggets from the interview, which you can read in full in English here, jumped out at me. For one thing, Medvedev apparently told Muratov and Gorbachev that he is something an admirer of "Novaya gazeta," a newspaper that is a consistently harsh critic of the Kremlin:
And the president also hinted that he may favor leniency for jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and other imprisoned Yukos executives. Here is how Muratov described Medvedev's thoughts on that:
Muratov added that "Medvedev said firmly that I could talk about this meeting wherever I wanted and any way I wanted, and that is what I'm basically doing."
What to make of Medvedev's gesture?
Those looking for signs of conflict in Russia's ruling diarchy may try to fit it into a pattern in which Medvedev is looking increasingly at odds with his old mentor Putin on various issues -- including what to do about the economic crisis and legislation broadening the definition of treason and espionage.
Here is how Masha Lipman of the Moscow Carnegie Center responded to the meeting, as reported by Bloomberg News:
Skeptics, on the other hand, will undoubtedly call it either a cheap PR stunt that is already getting play in the Western media, or part of a game where Medvedev plays "good cop" to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's "bad cop."
I'm reserving judgment for now.
-- Brian Whitmore