FSB Digs Dirt on Starovoitova, Allies

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FSB Digs Dirt on Starovoitova, Allies ni...@glasnet.ru 1/28/99 12:00 AM
Reply-To: "nikst" <ni...@glasnet.ru>
From: "nikst" <ni...@glasnet.ru>
Subject: FSB Digs Dirt on Starovoitova, Allies
Date: Thu, 28 Jan 1999 05:51:33 +0300

St. Petersburg Times
January 26, 1999
TOP STORY
FSB Digs Dirt on Starovoitova, Allies

  Investigators looking into the assassination of State Duma deputy Galina Sta
rovoitova have been interrogating St. Petersburg journalists, and those who
have been through such interviews say the questions are leading, irrelevant
and offensive.

  One journalist, Daniel Kotsubinsky of the weekly local newspaper Chas Pik,
said his interrogator told him that the youth wing of Starovoitova's political
party regularly held orgies with animals. Kotsubinsky said Interior Ministry
Detective Mikhail Balukhta tried to get him to confirm immoral behavior by
Starovoitova's allies.

  Tatyana Likhanova, another journalist interrogated, now works as an aide to
Duma Deputy Yuly Rybakov, an artist and Soviet-era dissident who was one of
Starovoitova's closest allies. She says Detective Balukhta gleefully informed
her that he had personally detained Rybakov 15 times during the Soviet period
for taking part in pro-democracy meetings - and then added that he saw Rybakov
as a suspect in Starovoitova's murder.

  "At the end of the interrogation he said to me: 'We are going to solve this
case in such a way that it buries your de mo cratic movement,'" Likhanova
said.

  "He also said that he understands why people would want to kill
Starovoitova,
since 'She was always defending ethnic minorities and has never done anything
for the Russian people.'"

  St. Petersburg Times reporter Brian Whitmore is among the reporters who has
been subpoenaed to give testimony, in particular regarding his relationship
with Ruslan Linkov, Starovoitova's aide, who was shot by her assailants but
survived the attack.

  The FSB has denied requests to have either a lawyer or a U.S. consular
official present during the questioning, which is scheduled to take place on
Thursday at the Bolshoi Dom on 4 Liteiny Prospect, the former St. Petersburg
headquarters of the KGB, and today of the FSB, the successor agency to the
KGB.

  Likhanova, Kotsubinsky and Whitmore are among at least five of Linkov's
friends - four of them journalists - whom investigators have targeted for
questioning as "witnesses" in the murder case.

  All who have been through the process say investigators are seeking dirt on
Starovoitova and allies like Linkov.

  "It was clear that they wanted to hear something bad about Ruslan
[Linkov] or
about Starovoitova," said Kotsubinsky, adding that eighty percent of the
interrogators' questions were attempts to glean some sort of damaging or
embarrassing material about Linkov. "At one point I was asked: 'Don't you
think Ruslan Linkov is an immoral person?'"

  "They asked me who Linkov's girlfriends and lovers were. When I said I
didn't
know, they followed up with a question about what his relations with
Starovoitova were."

  Kotsubinsky also said that investigators sought dirt on the Young Christian
Democrats, the youth wing of Sta ro voi to va's political party Democratic
Russia.

  That was Thursday. On Friday, Detective Balukhta called in Likhanova, who is
the editor of the newspaper Severnaya Stolitsa, a publication loyal to
Starovoitova and Rybakov.

  "The whole thing was absurd and offensive," said Likhanova of the
questioning.

She said that Balukhta brought up a feature article she had written last year
about the 69 Club, a St. Petersburg gay nightclub, and asked "what I thought
about homosexuality."

  Three days prior to Starovoitova's death, a report in Likhanova's newspaper
alleged that Gennady Seleznyov, the speaker of the Duma, was abusing his post
by extorting money for his Communist Party out of St. Petersburg businesses.

  On the day of Starovoitova's funeral, Se leznyov filed an 800,000 ruble
libel
suit against Severnaya Stolitsa that named Likhanova as a defendant. Lik ha
nova said that Detective Balukhta repeatedly tried to get her to reveal
sources, saying he could help her with that lawsuit if she would only give him
"what he wanted."

  What he wanted, according to Likhanova, was incriminating information about
Linkov, Rybakov and the Young Christian Democrats.

The interrogations follow what can only be described as a smear campaign
a gainst Linkov in St. Petersburg media.

  Earlier this month, the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda ran a story based
entirely on an interview with local television producer Alexander
Borisoglebsky, the first person on the scene after Starovoitova was killed.

  Borisoglebsky claimed that Linkov might have participated in the
assassination. As evidence, he claimed Linkov had not been injured in the
attack - an absurd suggestion that was rejected out of hand by doctors and law
enforcement officers, and also by journalists who have visited Linkov in the
hospital.

  An article in last month's weekly Novy Peterburg, meanwhile, suggested that
former prime minister Yegor Gai dar and former deputy prime minister Anatoly
Chubais - who move in the same political circles as Starovoitova - had killed
her to create a martyr for their political cause. Novy Peterburg compared
gunning down Starovoitova to the Nazis setting fire to the Reichstag as a
prelude to taking power.

  "I am simply at a loss for words," said Rybakov in an interview Monday,
asked
to comment on the interrogations as described by Likhanova, Kotsubinsky and
others. "These are typical KGB methods and they show the low intellectual
level of these people."

  Linkov has also been subpoenaed and must appear for questioning soon, but
for
now is convalescing under police protection at an undisclosed location. He was
equally dismayed to hear how the murder investigation is progressing, saying
that local investigators are more interested in smearing Starovoitova and her
allies than in solving the crime.

  "The FSB is continuing in the spirit and style of the Soviet KGB," he
said in an interview on Monday. "That organization is completely
unreformed."

*******
Yes, indeed ;-(