MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has filed another libel suit against the chief editor and several reporters of Novaya Gazeta daily, his lawyer said on Tuesday.
Andrei Krasnenkov said an article in the paper linked the president to the killing of his former bodyguard Umar Israilov in Vienna in January. The murder was one in a string of assassinations of high-profile critics of the Chechen leadership.
"The article contained libel against Kadyrov," the lawyer said.
"I have asked for a criminal case to be opened against Dmitry Muratov, editor in chief of Novaya Gazeta, and several journalists," he said, adding that the suit had already been filed with Moscow prosecutors.
The paper said in the article published in February that Israilov and his relatives had been tortured by high-profile officials in the Chechen Republic, including Kadyrov.
Israilov fled Chechnya and was granted political asylum in Austria, where he was murdered on January 13, 2009, as the New York Times prepared to publish an article on his allegations, detailed in submissions to the European Court of Human Rights.
Muratov said on Tuesday he could not comment on the suit as he had not studied the charges.
"I have not seen the suit and have nothing to say," he said. "I would like to know exactly in what way we defamed this innocent man."
Novaya Gazeta, where the late Anna Politkovskaya known for her reports on atrocities against civilians in Chechnya worked, lost a libel case filed by Kadyrov in April 2009.
On Tuesday, Kadyrov was awarded 70,000 rubles ($2,300) in libel damages from the Memorial human rights group and its head, Oleg Orlov, who had accused Kadyrov of involvement in the July murder of one of its activists.
Kadyrov had sought 10 million rubles ($320,000) in damages over Orlov's comments, published on the Memorial web site, about the murder of Natalya Estimirova on July 14.
Oleg Orlov later said he had referred to Kadyrov's responsibility as president for the failure to end killings of rights activists and civilians in Chechnya, but refused to publish a denial of the accusation.
A former Chechen rebel, Kadyrov, 33, has been credited for bringing relative peace to the republic, which saw two Kremlin-led campaigns against separatists. Grozny, ravaged by the years of conflict, has been restored.
In recent months, however, the republic and the wider North Caucasus region has seen a resurgence of violence.