That is the question that has to be forefront in one's mind as we read that Russian authorities say they have arrested ten people in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya last October 7th.
The Russians might have gotten the button men that did the actual killing but, to sound like something akin to a conspiracy advocate, those hiring the killers sought to discredit the government of Vladimir Putin by having Politkoskaya killed? That is the reason for the murder? Politkoskaya was doing far more alive to discredit Putin's government by documenting the human rights abuses Russia and its allies, in Soviet/Spetnaz fashion, have perpetrated in Chechnya than her murder could.
Another problem with this explanation is the Russians saying this murder has links Paul Klebnikov and Andrei Kozlov. Which implies these murders were also intended to discredit Putin's government. A far easier to believe motive was an attempt to silence critics of the government. Can we say damage control since the critics have not been silenced and this is their latest attempt to deflect things?
Russia's standing on the international scene has been plummeting with every one of these murders of Putin's critics. Thirteen journalists since Putin was elected in 2000 have been murdered in contract style killings. The radioactive poisoning of Litvinenko has caused relations between Russia and the UK to chill. Putin's government has tried to extort money from various countries via charging exorbitant fees for oil and natural gas. Russia is in a feud with Estonia because the Estonians moved a statue symbolizing Russia's illegal occupation of the tiny country. Russian opposition to the countries of Eastern Europe seeking closer ties with the West. And now Putin is sending Russian Tu-95 Bears on saber-rattling missions against the US and UK has further eroded relations.
So set against this backdrop it is well nigh hard to believe an outside cabal of people sought to have Anna Politskaya murdered along with those other two people to discredit Russia's government. Putin is doing a stellar job of discrediting his government on his own, murders not required. And Putin, it seems, is finding that murdering a journalist is not the same as silencing said journalist. A certain king exclaiming 'Will no one rid me of this meddling priest!' could have counseled Putin on the matter of obstreperous critics are harder to get rid of once murdered.