The police investigation into the murder of Vladislav Listyev, a famous Russian journalist, was suspended three years ago rather than recently, a source in Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office said.
The source told the Interfax news agency that the decision was made by the General Prosecutor’s Office on April 3, 2006.
The announcement came hours after the Russian media reported that the investigation had been recently suspended without any suspects named.
“Information, which appeared in the mass media, that the Investigation Committee has suspended the investigation into Vladislav Listyev’s murder, is a little outdated,” the source said.
Listyev was shot dead on March 1, 1995 near his apartment. The killers managed to escape in a car.
The motives for this highly publicized murder, as well as the names of those who ordered and carried it out, still remain a mystery.
The Rosbalt news service reported on Tuesday that in the search for those who ordered the crime investigators questioned many famous people including businessmen Boris Berezovsky and Sergey Lisovsky.
Although one of the contract killers admitted that he had been involved in the crime and a number of criminal authorities were detained, no suspects were ever charged.
The source reported that investigators considered different motives for the murder and suggested that advertising time was one of the main reasons why the journalist was killed.
Appointed in 1995 as general director of ORT TV Channel (Channel One), Listyev made an attempt to change the advertising policy which may have had an impact on the interests of various companies and mediators.
Before Listyev took over, the television station received very little money from selling advertising time and often worked with mediating companies for bartering advertising.
Thus, mediating companies bought Brazilian TV soap operas, inserted ads into them and gave them to TV channels to broadcast for free.
Rosbalt sources suggested that this decision might have been fatal for Listyev.
Investigators questioned Sergey Lisovsky, the head of one of the mediating firms, Premier SV, though no charges have been filed.
Reports note that in 1996 the prosecution developed a version of who could have organized and staged the crime. Still, the investigation didn’t go very far beyond this.
As for the murder itself, the prosecution had several suspects. A professional killer, Andrey Chelyshev, confessed that he took part in the crime.
He said he was the one who was driving a car in which two killers escaped.
Chelyshev didn’t disclose the names of those who ordered the crime and said he was approached by an Azerbaijani acquaintance who allegedly hired him for the job.
Detectives questioned him but later determined that Chelyshev confessed to protect the real murderers. Chelyshev soon died in prison.
Rosbalt says that later the investigation ruled that there were 5 people who committed the murder, some of whom followed Listyev on his way home and notified two others inside the building that the journalist was coming.
Prosecutors think that soon after the murder, the suspects disappeared to the Czech Republic and Israel. The Russian Interior Ministry was negotiating joint efforts with Israel when one of the alleged killers, Aleksandr Ageikin, was found dead in Tel Aviv. The fate of other suspects remained unknown.
Vladislav Listyev’s death had a large impact on the public. On the day of his funeral, March 2 2005, there was nothing but the journalist’s portrait on TV screens with the words “Vladislav Listyev has been killed.” Tens of thousands attended his funeral.