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Murdered Russian Reporter's Family Slam Media Leaks

A memorial for Anna Politkovskaya
MOSCOW -- The family and colleagues of murdered Russian reporter Anna Politkovskaya have demanded an inquiry into leaks to the media that they said risked scuppering efforts to prosecute her killers.

Politkovskaya, an investigative reporter who was critical of the Kremlin and exposed human rights abuses in Russia's turbulent North Caucasus region, was shot dead on Oct. 7, 2006, outside her Moscow apartment.

Her family and colleagues from the "Novaya gazeta" weekly where she worked have been angered by leaks to the press, including a report that named the suspected murderer as Rustam Makhmudov before his identity had been officially released.

'Sabotage The Case'

"I think that certain employees of some special service structures are deliberately trying to sabotage the case," Sergei Sokolov, a senior editor at "Novaya gazeta," told Reuters.

"If that leak had not happened, the killer would be sitting in prison," he said, adding that the newspaper wwanted a criminal case to be opened over the leaks.

The Prosecutor-General's Investigative Committee, which is leading the investigation into Politkovskaya's murder, could not be reached for comment. The Federal Security Service, Russia's main domestic intelligence agency, was also unavailable.

A lawyer for the family said they had submitted a demand for an inquiry to the Prosecutor-General's investigation unit.

"We see from the media that these sources are in the system of the law enforcement agencies. We demand that the source of the leaks be found and that a special probe be carried out," lawyer Anna Stavitskaya, the Politkovskaya family lawyer said.

The murder of Politkovskaya was one of the highest-profile killings to occur during former President Vladimir Putin's eight-year rule and raised concerns about the freedom of reporters to operate without threat to their lives.

Ordered From Abroad

Prosecutor-General Yuri Chaika said last August the murder was ordered from abroad by enemies of Russia who sought to discredit Putin, who is now prime minister, and undermine political stability.

Chaika said then that an organized criminal group, led by an ethnic Chechen and including at least five serving and former Russian law enforcement officers, had carried out the murder.

Some analysts say there is tension between the Prosecutor-General's office and the Investigative Committee, whose chief said on July 1 that the killer was in Western Europe.

Chaika said on July 2 in St Petersburg that he did not know where the suspect was but that an international arrest warrant had been issued for him.

Prosecutors last month announced they had completed their investigation into the murder and had charged three men, who are in detention, with involvement in the killing.