MOSCOW, December 20, 2:50 /ITAR-TASS/. Moscow's Lyublino district court is expected on Friday to hand down a verdict in the case over the murder of Novaya Gazeta journalist Igor Domnikov, who was beaten to death in May 2000.
Entrepreneur Pavel Sopot, accused of masterminding the crime, made his final statement on Thursday. He said he had four children and his aged mother to support and accused the media of bias against him. "I had no motive to mastermind the attack; I regret what happened, but I'm a small and modest entrepreneur who happened to be close to that story because of my naivety."
At a previous hearing, prosecution demanded an eight-year jail term for Sopot.
Domnikov's widow demanded a ten-million-rouble compensation. Her representative Marina Andreyeva said the body of evidence against Sopot proved his involvement. Since Sopot had viewed Domnikov's publications in the Novaya Gazeta as a threat to his business, he engineered the attack, she said.
Andreyeva, citing references with respect to Sopot, described him as a haughty person fond of provocative statements aimed at setting his rivals against each other.
"The defense supports the ten-million-rouble damages suit and asks the court to sentence Sopot to eight years in a maximum security prison," the lawyer said.
In the middle of the 1990s, Eduard Tagiryanov, resident of the town of Naberezhnye Chelny Eduard set up a gang, which began to operate in several provinces, including Lipetsk region and Moscow.
In the early 2000s, the gang handled mutual settlements between the Gazprom-Avia company and Lipetsk region enterprises.
Novaya Gazeta correspondent Igor Domnikov published critical articles about the social situation in that province.
In response, entrepreneur Pavel Sopot decided to mastermind an attack on the journalist in order to strengthen his position among local business people, Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir 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.
On May 12, 2000, gang members secretly tailed him from his office to his home, and hit him at least ten times on the head with a hammer.
Tagiryanov and other gang members were convicted for this crime by Tatarstan's Supreme Court in 2007.