On 20 January 2009, a lawyer for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Stanislav Markelov, was shot dead in a Moscow street in what appears to have been an assassination. Anastasiya Baburova, a young journalist who was walking alongside Markelov when he was shot, reportedly attempted to apprehend the gunman, but was herself shot in the head, and later died in hospital.
Baburova and Markelov were attacked as they left a press conference at the Independent Press Centre. Markelov, a human rights lawyer, had represented the journalist Anna Politkovskaya before she herself had been assassinated in October 2006. Just hours before his killing, Markelov had issued a statement protesting the early release of a Russian army officer, Yuri Budanov, who had been convicted in 2003 for the murder of a Chechen girl, Elza Kungayeva, three years earlier in 2000. Markelov was the legal representative for the Kungayeva family, and had also represented other victims of human rights abuses, including the families of Chechens who have disappeared. He had stated that the family intended to appeal against the officer’s early release, news of which had led to protests in Chechnya. Markelov had told the BBC’s Russian service a few days before his death that he intended to find out who had ordered the release and that he would find out who is “guilty of breaching their legal authority”. He added “I understand now that there is no rule of law” in Russia
The Committee to Protect Journalists reports that Anastasyia Baburova had joined Novaya Gazeta in October 2008 and had been researching neo-Nazism and race motivated crimes in Russia. She is the fourth journalist from the newspaper to be murdered since 2000. It is not clear whether Baburova had been targeted by the assassin or whether she was a victim of her courageous attempt to apprehend the murderer. What is clear is that independent journalists, notably those working for Novaya Gazeta and others who cover human rights abuses in Chechnya, are under great threat.
In a memorial piece in Novaya Gazeta published 21 January, Baburova’s colleague Elene Milashina writes “25-year-old Nastya Baburova was also a romantic rebel, an anarchist who took part in the anti-fascist movement and the Dissenters’ marches. In the eyes of the regime and ordinary people, who only want to keep out of trouble and quietly survive the present regime, Nastya’s choice also made her an outsider. Therefore few people in our country could die as she did, struggling to apprehend the assassin.” For the full text, please click here.
English PEN calls on the Russian authorities to initiate a full and impartial investigation into the murders, and to bring those responsible for carrying out and ordering the killing to justice. PEN also calls on the Russian authorities to unequivocally condemn all attacks on the independent press and to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of journalists.
To view the Novaya Gazeta website (in English) please click here.
What you can do:
– Protest to the Russian President
– Write to the Russian embassy in your own country
– Send messages of solidarity to Novaya Gazeta
Please send appeals:
– Expressing shock at the killings of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova on 19 January 2009;
– Referring to concerns that Markelov’s murder was linked to his role as a human rights lawyer;
– Urging that there be a full and impartial investigation investigation into the murders, and to bring those responsible for carrying out and ordering the killing to justice.
– Calling on the Russian authorities to unequivocally condemn all attacks on the independent press and to take urgent measures to ensure the safety of journalists.
Mr Dmitry Medvedev
President of the Russian Federation
Fax: 7 095 206 5173 / 230 2408
Mr Chaika Yuri Yakovlevich
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Ishaya Dmitrovka, 15a GSP 3
Fax: 7 095 292 88 48
Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/writersinprison/bulletins/russianovayagazetajournalistandlawyershotdead/