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Putin pledges full probe into reporter's slaying

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin pledged to President Bush yesterday that authorities would do everything they could to find the killers of an investigative journalist who was a fierce critic of Kremlin policy toward Chechnya.

In a phone conversation with Bush, Putin said ``all necessary efforts will be made for an objective investigation into the tragic death" of Anna Politkovskaya, who was gunned down in an apparent contract killing Saturday.

Putin's remarks were his first statement on the slaying of the award-winning reporter who uncovered abuses in Chechnya.

Her newspaper has offered a reward of nearly $1 million for information on the crime, which provoked worldwide condemnation and shone the spotlight on Russia, a dangerous country for journalists.

Her colleagues said she had been working on a story about torture and abductions in the war-ravaged southern province -- abuses she attributed to Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov. ``I dream of seeing him tried," she said in an interview days before her death.

The semiweekly newspaper Novaya Gazeta, where Politkovskaya had worked, published a special edition yesterday that inquired into the cause of her killing.

The paper said the killing was revenge by Kadyrov or an attempt to discredit him. He expressed condolences over her death, and denied any ``Chechen trace" in the killing. ``It is hearsay and rumors, " he was quoted as saying by the Vremya Novostei daily.

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