Russian authorities claimed to have solved the sensational killing of known Kremlin critic journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated in the elevator of her apartment in October 2006.
Ten people, including three police officers and an officer of FSB security service, once headed by President Vladimir Putin, have been arrested in connection with the murder of the Novaya Gazeta journalist, Russian prosecutor general Yuri Chaika said in a hurriedly called press conference on Monday evening.
All others, who were arrested, were Chechens. Chaika claimed that the arrested people included an alleged hitman who was also involved in several contract killings in neighbouring Ukraine and Latvia.
Without naming Britain-based disgraced tycoon Boris Berezovsky, Chaika claimed that Politkovskaya was slain on the orders of "people who have taken refuge abroad and intent on destabilising conditions in the country and changing the constitutional order to restore the order when money and oligarchs called the shots in Russia."
At a separate briefing, head of FSB internal security department Alexander Kupryazhkin disclosed that Colonel Pavel Ryaguzov posted in Moscow branch has been dismissed and arrested for providing information on the movements of Politkovskaya to her Chechen killers.
Editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta Dmitry Muradov stated that he was satisfied with the progress of the investigation.
"The investigators' conclusions are extremely convincing and professional," he commented. The newspaper does not intend to abandon its own investigation of the murder, however, Interfax reported.
"Our names of those who organised the murder coincide with the official investigation, but the identity of the person who ordered the murder does not coincide," Deputy Editor of Novaya Gazeta Sergei Sokolov told the Moscow Times.
Politkovskaya's son Ilya, 28, in e-mailed comments to the Moscow Times said the family was "not surprised by this news" about the arrests.
Politkovskaya, who would have turned 49 on Thursday, was a prolific author of articles -- many of which won international awards -- critical of federal actions in Chechnya, leading many observers to link her death to her job.
She frequently accused members of pro-Kremlin Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's elite fighting unit of kidnapping and torture.
Her killing invoked an outcry from international media freedom watchdogs and calls from Western nations for swift action.
The Council of Europe welcomed the arrests. US Ambassador to Russia William Burns has welcomed the breakthrough in the Politkovskaya murder case, as she was also an American passport holder. Burns called it "very encouraging that such progress has been achieved," Interfax reported.
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