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Thursday, May 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Human Rights Attorney Killed in Moscow

A gunman on a Moscow street shot to death a Russian human rights attorney and a journalist on Monday. The attorney, Stanislav Markelov, had just come from a news conference at which he criticized the early release from prison of a Russian tank commander who murdered an 18-year-old Chechen woman. Markelov represented the slain woman's family. The reporter, Anastasia Baburova, wrote for Novaya Gazeta, which is critical of the Russian government.

Markelov, 34, was killed four days after Army Col. Yuri Budanov was released early from a 10-year sentence. Markelov had just come from a news conference at which he said he was considering filing an appeal to an international court, opposing Col. Budanov's early release.

Markelov, who directed a group called the Rule of Law Institute, had brought cases against the Russian military, Chechen warlords and neo-fascists. He also represented the prominent writer Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in her apartment building in 2006 after she wrote a series of devastating reports on Russian brutality in Chechnya.

Markelov's long list of enemies is expected to make it difficult to pin the blame for his murder on the Russian state, which, given the long list of murders of journalists in the Putin and post-Putin era, leads the list of suspects, according to comments from a wide range of Russian and Chechen society.

Markelov and Baburova were killed by a masked gunman who used a pistol with a silencer. They were killed about 1 kilometer from the Kremlin.

Baburova is the fourth Novaya Gazeta reported murdered since 2000. The list includes Politkovskaya.

Budanov was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003. He was the highest-ranking Russian official to be sentenced for crimes against civilians in Chechnya.

He admitted he murdered Kheda Kungayeva in 2000 by strangling her in his quarters. Kungayeva allegedly was raped before Budanov strangled her. Budanov was released from prison early for good behavior.

(This article was compiled from reporting by The New York Times, Reuters, The Associated Press, the London Times and the Los Angeles Times.)

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