MOSCOW, May 8 (Itar-Tass) - Businessman Pavel Sopot, suspected of masterminding the murder of Novaya Gazeta reporter Igor Domnikov, has insisted on his innocence.
"I'm sure that everything the investigator is saying is not true," Sopot said at a hearing at Moscow's Presnya court which mulled his arrest.
The businessman said he had been slandered Eduard Tagiryanov, a criminal boss.
His lawyer said he client had no intention to escape the investigators and asked for bail.
The deadline for completing the probe has been moved to July 28.
Editor of the Novaya Gazeta's special projects department Igor Domnikov was brutally beaten up in the entrance to his apartment house on May 12, 2000. He was in coma for more than two months in neurosurgery hospital and died without regaining consciousness.
The investigators ascertained that in the middle of the 1990s, Naberezhnye Chelny resident Eduard Tagiryanov set up a gang, whose influence spread to several regions, including Moscow in the late 1990s.
"In the early 2000s, members of this criminal group began to effect bilateral clearing operations between Gazprom-Avia and companies in the Lipetsk region. At that time, Novaya Gazeta correspondent Igor Domnikov published critical articles about the social situation in that province.
In response, entrepreneur Pavel Sopot decided to organize an attack on the journalist in order to strengthen his position among local business people, Markin said.
Sopot told about his plans to Tagiryanov, who supported him and ordered his henchmen to track down Domnikov, establish his address and attack," Markin said.
Gang members secretly tailed him from his office to his place of residents, and hit him at least ten times on the head with a hammer on May 12, 2000.
Tagiryanov and other gang members were convicted for this crime by Tatarstan's Supreme Court. The criminal case against the masterminds and instigators is investigated separately.