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Murder in Moscow

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Another spectacular homicide with strong political overtones in Russia’s capital–Stanislav Markelov, who represented Russia’s best known exposé journalist, Anna Politkovskaya, was shot dead just after giving a press conference. The Times (London) reports:

Officials said that Stanislav Markelov… was shot dead in the street by an unknown gunman moments after speaking out about the case of Yuri Budanov. Budadov was sentenced to 10 years in jail in 2003 for the murder of 18-year-old Kheda Kungayeva, a Chechen woman snatched from her home in March 2000 and taken to the colonel’s office. There she was allegedly raped before Budanov, who accused her of being a rebel sniper, strangled her. The case caused widespread revulsion and Budanov became the first senior Russian officer convicted of human rights abuses during the Chechen campaign. He was released from jail four days ago.

Politkovskaya was shot dead on October 7, 2006—which, coincidentally or not, is Vladimir Putin’s birthday. She had been a courageous critic of Putin and his government, particularly of its actions in the Caucasus. A murder prosecution relating to her death is pending in a Moscow court now. It has repeatedly featured witnesses and evidence linking her murder to senior Russian intelligence service figures.

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