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    HEARINGS IN YUSHENKOV MURDER CASE CONTINUE IN MOSCOW CITY COURT

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    MOSCOW, March 17, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - The lawyers of Mikhail Kodanev, the chief defendant in State Duma Deputy Sergei Yushenkov's murder case, will appear in the Moscow City Court on Wednesday.

    Mr. Yushenkov was murdered near the entrance of his home in northwestern Moscow on April 17, 2003. Six people - Mikhail Kodanev, Alexander Vinnik, Alexander Kulachinsky, Igor Kiselyov, Vladislav Palkov and Anton Drozd - have been charged with the murder. The three of the defendants have previous convictions.

    All of the defendants are charged with murder, encroachment on the life of a statesman or a public figure, and illegal weapons possession. Three of the six defendants have pleaded guilty; Mr. Vinnik pleaded guilty to all charges and Mr. Kiselyov and Mr. Kulachinsky pleaded guilty to part of the charges. Mr. Kodanev, Mr. Palkov and Mr. Drozd did not plead guilty.

    Yuri Biryukov, the first deputy Prosecutor General, said that Mr. Kodanev and Mr. Vinnik financed and planned the murder, Mr. Kulachinsky committed the murder, Mr. Kiselev enlisted Mr. Kulachinsky, and Mr. Palkov and Mr. Drozd also helped plan the murder. Mr. Palkov and Mr. Drozd "analyzed the layout of Yushenkov's residence and found out how to go there, how to get near the house and how to get away," Mr. Biryukov said. According to him, feuding inside the Liberal Russia party was the motive for the assassination.

    The indictment states that Mr. Kodanev, co-chairman of the Liberal Russia party, decided to eliminate Mr. Yushenkov because Mr. Kodanev wanted to use the party's financial resources for personal expenses.

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