Three Chechen brothers were detained under suspicion of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaya's murder. Their lawyer is sure that they had nothing to do with her death, and accused police of hitting his client over the head with a bottle and threatening to cause him further harm if he refused to confess.
The brothers were among 10 suspects whose arrests were announced Monday by Russia's chief prosecutor, who said the Oct. 7 shooting was organized by a Chechen native who led a Moscow criminal group that specialized in contract killings.
The suspects included a police major and a Federal Security Service officer, as well as three former police officers, who were accused of tracking Politkovskaya and providing her killers with information.
The arrests appeared to confirm long-standing suspicions of collusion between police officers and members of organized crime groups in Moscow.
Dzhabrail Makhmudov, a 25-year-old lawyer, his brothers Ibragim and Tamerlan, and one other suspect - all ethnic Chechens - have all been charged with complicity in the murder, lawyer Murad Musayev said on Ekho Moskvy radio.
Musyaev said that Dzhabrail Makhmudov was hit with a bottle by police during interrogation and reminded that his brothers were in the next room - a statement that put pressure on him by apparently threatening his brothers with injury.
The Prosecutor General's Office would not say whether any charges had been filed or comment on the lawyer's statement.
Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika said Monday that the journalist's killing had been ordered by someone living outside Russia with the aim of discrediting President Vladimir Putin and destabilizing the country. He appeared to be referring to Boris Berezovsky, a former Kremlin insider who is one of Putin's fiercest critics and lives in Britain, where he has refugee status.
A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Tuesday that Putin was concerned about the reports of the involvement of police and members of the security service, known by the Russian acronym FSB.
"The positive side of the story is that the FSB has the capacity to cleanse itself of these traitors," Peskov said.