Russian Federation L4L calls upon authorities to investigate Markelov's death
26 December 2009

Russian Federation L4L calls upon authorities to investigate Markelov's death

In a letter dated 21 January 2009, L4L has demanded an investigation into the murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov. In addition, the lack of governmental protection for Markelov must be explained.
The Russian human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov (34) and Anastasia Baburova (25), a freelance journalist for the critical newspaper Novaja Gazeta, were killed on 19 January 2009 in broad daylight in the centre of Moscow. According to eyewitnesses the two were shot in the head by an unknown assassin.

Markelov and Baburova were on their way from a press conference during which Markelov announced that he would appeal to the Russian authorities regarding the early release out of prison of the Russian colonel Juri Budanov. In 2003 this colonel was sentenced to 10 years in prison for murdering the 18 year old Chekhovian woman Elza Kungajeva. The colonel strangled the woman because he thought she was a sniper for the Chekhovian rebels. This case is being compared to that of Anna Politkovskaja, a journalist who was murdered in 2006 and who worked for Markelov. Politkovskaja used to write often in the Novaja Gazeta about the Kungajeva-case, because she thought it was symbolical for the Russian human rights violations in Chechnya.

A few days before his violent death in an interview with the BBC Markelov had expressed his intention of finding out who had given the order to release Budanov. “From the course of things I understand that there still is no decent judicial process in Russia”, he said among other things.

Markelov assisted people who were abused, tortured and raped in Chechnya by the Russian police. He also stood by the victims of the drama surrounding the taking of hostages in the Moscow Dubrovka theatre on 24 October 2002. Among his clients was the journalist Anna Politkovskaja, who was murdered on 7 October 2006.

The world has reacted with outrage to the murder of Markelov. Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, made the following statement on 20 January 2009:

“The murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova on the streets of Moscow is only the most recent attack on people working for human rights in Chechnya. […] Until they are properly investigated by the Russian authorities and all those responsible are brought to justice, there will be a shadow over the rule of law, the freedom of expression and the commitment to human rights in the Russian Federation.”

It has since been made public that the three men who were on trial for the murder of the journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politkovskaja were acquitted by a jury in Moscow on Thursday 19 February 2009.

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