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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Assassinat politique dans Moscou

by Audrey Bourdier

Political Murder in Moscow

Translated Sunday 25 January 2009, by Anatoli

Russia. Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer known for his fighting against the army’s abusive practices in Chechnya, has been killed in the middle of the street.

Stanislav Markelov, who made it his special job to denounce crime committed in Chechnya, was murdered with a bullet while on a street in Moscow. He was accompanied by a young journalist working for Novaya Gazeta, an opposition newspaper, and she was also killed in this attack.

Both were killed when they were leaving a press conference during which Stanislav Markelov announced that he looked forward to contesting the penitentiary authorities’ decision to release prematurely the former Russian army colonel Yuriy Budanov, sentenced to a ten-year prison term in 2003 for having strangled a young Chechen girl of 18. His trial raised a lot of public agitation and Budanov has become the highest-ranking Russian army serviceman ever prosecuted judicially for a crime committed during the Chechen conflict.

In addition, Markelov was a defense counsel before the European Court of Human Rights for several petitions filed by Chechens against Russia. Moreover, he assisted journalist Anna Politkovskaya in her fight against violations of human rights in Chechnya perpetrated by Russian local authorities. Politkovskaya was murdered in October 2006.

This double murder, increasing doubts about the rule of law and freedom of expression in Russia, raised lively response worldwide. Dick Marty, rapporteur of the Council of Europe on the human rights situation in the Northern Caucasus, expressed his sharp indignation. “I am dismayed to have learned about the murder of Stanislav Markelov, who has paid with his life for the uncompromising commitment to fighting against the violators of human rights in Chechnya,” declared the Swiss Senator.

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