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Suspect Is Detained in Chubais Attack

Police detained a highly decorated former special forces commando, who is a neighbor of Anatoly Chubais and whose wife's car was spotted at the scene of Thursday's ambush of the Unified Energy Systems chief. But questions were raised about why an explosives expert and Afghan war veteran would give investigators such an obvious lead.

Another suspect in the case, a truck driver from the Stavropol region whose driver's license was found at the scene, appeared to be in the clear after police confirmed they had confiscated his license at the same spot a week before.

Chubais said in remarks televised Sunday that he knew "quite definitely" who ordered the attack. "Naturally, I have given this information to prosecutors, and I hope there will be no leaks," he said, adding he had also told President Vladimir Putin.

Retired Colonel Vladimir Kvachkov was detained Thursday evening after investigators traced a car that witnesses said two attackers used to make their getaway to his wife, Kommersant reported Friday, citing an investigation source.

Kvachkov denied any involvement and refused to answer any questions before engaging a lawyer, Kommersant said Saturday.

Investigators are looking into whether Chubais' business activity, personal relations or vengeance over his political record were behind the attack, the Prosecutor General's Office said Friday.

Witnesses to the ambush, in which two assailants detonated a roadside bomb as Chubais' car passed by, then sprayed cars carrying Chubais and his bodyguards with gunfire from Kalashnikovs, took down the license plate number of the attackers' getaway car, a green Saab. No one was hurt in the attack.

Police said they were looking for a former armed forces colleague of Krachkov's, saying he could have been the other attacker, Interfax reported Friday, citing a law enforcement source.

Kvachkov, 57, is a former commando in the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Soviet armed forces' General Staff, or GRU, Kommersant reported. In 1983, he was posted to Afghanistan, where he led a special forces brigade and was decorated 10 times with medals and orders. He retired from active service in 1989 but stayed on as a civilian employee at the Defense Ministry's center for strategic military research until 1998, Kommersant and Interfax reported.

Kvachkov also starred in a movie about military intelligence in Afghanistan, playing himself, Rossiiskaya Gazeta reported Saturday.

A law enforcement officer, who declined to give his name, said Krachkov was once the Soviet Army's leading expert in subversion, Interfax reported.

Interfax said Kvachkov had a house in Silkovo, a village close to Zhavoronki, where Chubais lives. Most news reports, however, said Kvachkov's house was in Zhavoronki, and Komsomolskaya Pravda said Saturday that the Kvachkovs' place was just "a few dozen meters away" from Chubais' home.

Investigators found two grenade detonators at Krachkov's house, Interfax said Sunday.

An investigator, who also declined to give his name, said the findings did not prove Kvachkov's role in the attack. "Things like these can be found at the place of any veteran who saw combat," he said, Interfax reported.

Investigators found a TNT charge in the Kvachkovs' city center apartment on Berezhkovskaya Naberezhnaya, Kommersant reported. The Saab belonging to Kvachkov's wife, Nadezhda, was found near the Kvachkovs' apartment building, Kommersant reported. A search of the car turned up no traces of explosives, Kommersant reported.

Investigators searched the apartment of the elder of Krachkov's two sons, Alexander, because they suspected him of involvement in the attack, Interfax reported. Alexander's younger brother, Kirill, said Alexander was not home Thursday night, Kommersant reported. Alexander did not return home Friday, the paper reported.

Frants Klintsevich, a State Duma deputy and Afghan war veteran acquainted with Kvachkov, doubted he was connected to the attack.

"I have met Vladimir Vasilyevich at various Afghan war veterans' events and have heard many opinions about him," he said, Kommersant reported Saturday. "All my acquaintances call him a decent man and a well qualified officer."

Police on Friday said they suspected Alexei Karakostanda, a driver at a Stavropol-region-based truck company that delivers pasta and mayonnaise to St. Petersburg and Moscow, of involvement because they found his driver's license near the scene of the ambush. Karakostanda said traffic police had seized his license at the place where the ambush happened a week before, and he showed a copy of the police report in confirmation, Kommersant said Saturday. Police apparently then lost the license, he said.

Karakostanda's wife, Lyudmila, said police had apologized, Kommersant reported. Regional police confirmed that Karakostanda was no longer a suspect, NTV television reported.

In an interview with Channel One television Saturday, Chubais praised the investigators, saying they had worked "extremely professionally" and that the results were "impressive."

"I think that what has been done in these two or three days by ordinary investigators -- the guys who, as I understand, worked round the clock for all these days, primarily the Interior Ministry staff and prosecutors -- has been done extremely professionally, tenaciously and energetically, and the results that were achieved during this time are really impressive," Chubais said.

But he said it would be harder to determine the identity of the people who ordered the attack. "Everything is more difficult when it comes to the organizers," he said in an interview with Ren-TV television.

Klintsevich speculated that Kvachkov was too experienced a military officer to give an easy lead to the police. "You must agree that it is plain funny to arrive to the intended crime scene in your wife's car," he said, Kommersant reported. "I don't exclude that he is a victim of a setup. So far, it all reminds me of a staged performance."

Artyom Orekhov, whom KP identified as a GRU colonel and a former subordinate of Kvachkov's, said the bomb was planted unprofessionally, not the way Kvachkov would have done it, the paper reported.

"According to what I know, either his car was stolen from Berezhkovskaya Naberezhnaya or his son lent it to friends that day," Orekhov said, KP reported.

A neighbor who lives opposite the Kvachkovs said he saw Kvachkov step out of his apartment to throw out garbage about two hours after the time of the attack and that he showed no sign of nervousness, KP reported.

(The Moscow Times 21.iii.05)

 
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