ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.
Russian authorities say that they've arrested 10 people in connection with the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya. She was a prominent critic of the war in Chechnya, who was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building last year. Russia's prosecutor general told reporters today that the murder was orchestrated by Kremlin opponents, people who live outside of Russia.
Joining me now to discuss the arrest is NPR Moscow correspondent Gregory Feifer. And Gregory, this was a very high-profile murder case. Why has it received so much attention?
GREGORY FEIFER: Well, Anna Politkovskaya was a major critic of President Vladimir Putin and she was especially critical of his war in Chechnya. She was an investigative reporter who reported widely about the atrocities that have taken place down there, the killings, torture and abductions. And she was critical both of Russian troops in Chechnya and also of local Chechen pro-Moscow forces. She was especially critical of the Chechen leader, the current Chechen leader, the pro-Moscow strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov who, Moscow says, has imposed order in Chechnya. Politkovskaya disagreed with this and many people say that she may have been killed as a favor to Kadyrov to silence her criticism of him.
SIEGEL: Well, prosecutors said that Politkovskaya's killing was ordered by a criminal group led by an ethnic Chechen. Any details, did they give any details about that group?
FEIFER: Well, Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, who made the announcement in a news conference, didn't identify the group. He didn't give any details. But he did say the criminal group included serving and retired police officers and security service officers, five of whom were arrested. He also said that the group was probably responsible for the deaths of American journalist Paul Klebnikov, who was gunned down in 2004, and the shooting death of the former deputy head of Russia's central bank - his name is Andrei Kozlov - last year.
SIEGEL: Seems like a critical word in what he said was also serving officers in the police and the security services. Such people, he's saying, were involved in this plot but they were not doing it following orders, they were doing it as part of a broader criminal conspiracy?
FEIFER: Apparently, again, we have very few details about the announcement today. Prosecutor General Chaika said that there will be an announcement made, that charges will be formally filed in the very near future.
SIEGEL: How are Russians reacting to this - the announcement of these arrests?
FEIFER: I think very differently, many people seem to be skeptical. But the editor of Anna Politkovskaya's newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, which is a highly respected liberal newspaper, says that he actually backs today's announcement. He says that investigators worked with the newspaper and that they have done a professional job.
Now, he made a very big distinction between the announcement of the arrests and the claim that the killing was orchestrated by people from abroad. He said he was very worried that this announcement may be used for political purposes in what's very important election year this year. Vladimir Putin is due to step down next March after his two-term limit is up. And there's a feeling that the authorities may be using this to try to evoke the threat of enemies from abroad and also to show that they're acting here at home.
SIEGEL: NPR's Gregory Feifer in Moscow. Thank you very much.
FEIFER: You're welcome.
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