Lawyer in Chechen case killed in Moscow

Stanislav Markelov, lawyer representing the family of Elza Kungayeva, a Chechen woman murdered by Russian army Colonel Yuri Budanov, has been shot dead in the centre of Moscow.

According to witnesses, an unidentified man approached Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova, a journalist from Novaya Gazeta, and pulled out a gun. Markelov was shot dead on the spot. The journalist was shot in the head and died in hospital a few hours later.

Markelov had just held a press conference regarding the release of Yuri Budanov on parole four days earlier. Markelov was 34; Baburova was in her mid-20s.

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  1. Visa Kungaev, father of Elza Kungaeva, told that he had spoken to Stanislav Markelov by phone in the night between last Thursday and Friday. Markelov said he had received death threats by text message and phone.

    Kungaev asked Markelov to drop the case in fear for his life. Markelov said he believed they would not dare kill him, and saw no sense in informing the police about the death threats, “as they would not do anything.”

    Nevertheless, Kungaev decided to notify about the threats. He sent notes to a number of Russian human rights defenders and organisations based in Norway, including Amnesty International.

    Kungaev also told that his daughter Khava had received threats in the first two months after their move to Norway in August 2003.

    It is necessary to point out that Col. Yuri Budanov first gave the order to abduct then 12-year-old Khava, but changed his mind when he saw Elza, ordering Khava to be thrown out of the APC.

    The threats against Khava were coming from Russia by mobile phone. The family reported the threats to the police in Norway, and Khava was placed under police protection for more than a year.

    Oksana Chelysheva

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