Oleg Kozlovsky’s English Weblog

Politics, Democracy and Human Rights in Russia

Two New Victims of Political Murders in Russia

with 14 comments

A well-known attorney Stanislav Markelov and a young journalist Anastasia Baburova were assassinated on Monday not far from Kremlin. The murderer shot the lawyer in the head with a gun with silencer, the reporter tried to catch the hitman but was also shot dead.

Markelov had represented victims in many outspoken political suits including many war crimes in Chechnya. He was, for instance, involved in the case of Yury Budanov, a former colonel of Russian Army who had raped and killed a Chechen girl in 2000. By the way, Budanov was early released from the prison just a few days ago. He appears to have very influential supporters both in the army and in the government (like the governor of Ulyanovsk region Vladimir Shamanov).

Anastasia Baburova started to work in Novaya Gazeta (where Anna Politkovskaya had worked) only recently. She wrote about youth political groups including the Neo-Nazis, Novaya Gazeta reports.

This crime was added to the long bloody record of political murders in Putin’s Russia. Journalists who dared to investigate political crimes often become their next victims but it’s the first time when a lawyer is killed for political purposes.

Anna Politkovskaya, a prominent journalist for Novaya Gazeta, was shot dead at her doorstep in Moscow on October 7, 2006, Putin’s birthday. She was well-known for investigating cases of war crimes, police brutality and corruption in Chechnya and in other regions of Russia. Stanislav Markelov worked closely with her and represented the victims in all her latest cases.

Three people are tried for allegedly being involved in the murder of Politkovskaya, one of them a former UBOP (anti-organized crime unit also used against opposition) officer, another one an FSB agent. Neither the hitman, nor the mastermind were arrested but many people believe that Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov (who was an often target of Politkovskaya’s investigations) was involved. Vladimir Putin commented cynically on this murder that “her death caused more harm than her life”.

On November 23, 2006, another Kremlin’s foe, Alexander Litvinenko, died in London after being poisoned by radioactive Pollonium-212. He was a former FSB officer who accused the Russian secret services for organizing several terrorist attacks in 1999 that helped bring Vladimir Putin to power. The only suspect, Andrei Lugovoy, is now an MP for Kremlin-sponsored LDPR party and the Vice Speaker of the Duma. Russian government refused to extradite him to the United Kingdom.

On November 22, 2007, an opposition activist Yury Chervochkin was severely beaten by several men in sub-Moscow city of Serpukhov. He never came out of a coma and died on December 10. Several minutes before the assault he called his friends and told them that he was followed by several UBOP officers who he knew. The killers were never brought to justice.

On August 31, 2008, the owner of an opposition Web site Ingushetiya.ru Magomed Yevloev was arrested by the police in Magas, Ingushetia, and killed in a police car. Official version: an accidental shot in the head. The president of Ingushetia Murad Zyazikov had to resign two months later after a wave of popular protest (he is now an advisor to Dmitry Medvedev). Nobody was punished for the crime, however.

On November 13, 2008, the chief editor of Khimkinskaya Pravda newspaper Mikhail Beketov was attacked by unknown people at his doorstep in the city of Khimki near Moscow. He was beaten so severely that he barely survived, had his leg and two fingers amputated and still didn’t fully regain consciousness. The attackers haven’t been found. His paper revealed cases of corruption and illegal activities of the local authorities of Khimki. His attorney was Stanislav Markelov.

PS: When I already wrote this post, I found out that an opposition activist Anton Stradymov had been found dead in Moscow on Monday night. According to the reports, he was beaten to death, none of his belongings taken. His friends say he had no personal enemies.

Written by Oleg Kozlovsky

January 20, 2009 at 10:16

14 Responses

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  1. I can understand why you have Robert Amsterdam’s blog in your sidebar. Mr. amsterdam may be tough but he is generally fair.

    It’s a bit harder for me to understand why you have Edward Lucas listed. Ed “Loony” Lucas (see the eXile article on him) is a bit off his rocker and quite anti-Russian. I guess you were simply impressed by the mast head of the Economist magazine. Nobody who speaks english and lives in Russia believes anything Lucas writes.

    But what really surprises me is why you would put a full out anti-Russian bigot russophobe like La Russophobe blog in your blog’s sidebar.

    La Russophobe is an anonymous hate blog probably sponsored by the very same Americans who supported Georgia.

    If you want, as we all do, a better Russia why would you offer your name and reputation to people who anonymously smear Russia and Russians. I urge you to go read La Russophobe a bit more carefully. Not only do they criticize the Russian government but they make fun of Russian culture and in the most sexist terms slander Russian female tennis players.

    Timothy Post

    January 20, 2009 at 11:31

  2. Timothy, when I put links to these blogs on my sidebar, it doesn’t mean I share or support their POV in any way. I just find them worth reading for those who want to see various opinions on modern Russia. Perhaps, I should add a few more links, so thanks for your comment. However, what I’m not going to advertise for sure is the Russian official propaganda sources; they have their own budgets for that (taken from my taxes BTW).

    Oleg Kozlovsky

    January 20, 2009 at 13:18

  3. Oleg:

    Fair enough and while you and I may disagree about some the means by which Russia can become a better and stronger country, I think we do agree in the hope that we want to see Russia improve itself.

    Therefore, I think you should be aware, and cautious, not to be used by those people, wherever they may be, as a pawn in their battle. I think you much prefer to stand as your own man.

    The people behind La Russophobe do not hope well for Russia. No, their agenda in one of NATO expansion and the best way for them to justify NATO enlargement, and the profits that follow, is to create a make-believe enemy. They portray Russia as an enemy of the West and therefore, they seek to justify NATO expansion eastward.

    Their aims are very different from your aims of an open civil society for Russia.

    Timothy Post

    January 20, 2009 at 13:38

  4. Timothy, you have no idea what an amazing fool your ignorant comments have made you appear to be in Oleg’s eyes. You pontificate about things that you have absolutely no understanding about.

    Meanwhile, you fail to tell Oleg or his readers that you are a businessman operating in Russia and dealing with the Kremlin, currying favor with them to make a quick buck by rationalizing their behavior.

    Edward Lucas is one of the world’s most respected Russia jouralists, the author of a well-reviewed book about Putin and the Russia correspondent for the Economist magazine. The fact that you would slander him while complaining about slander only goes to prove how fully idiotic and neo-Soviet an ignoramus you truly are. We are honored to be named in his company.

    Tell us, Timothy: If you are a supporter of Oleg’s, will you be donating some of your profits to his organization Oborona? Will you be marching with them on the streets of Moscow in their upcoming protest for civil rights? If not, do you really think Oleg is stupid enough to be fooled by your pathetic attempt to attack the Kremlin’s most mortal foes in the blogosphere?

    We do of course understand your bitterness. You’ve watched the Putin stock market drop by 70%, FOREX by 30% and the ruble by 20%. You’ve watched inflation AND unemployment soaring, and seen your beloved Putin humiliated over and over on the international stage. So now you lash out like a jealous little child and those who have been proved right about your folly.

    We pity you, you nasty and pathetic little man.


    January 23, 2009 at 04:46

  5. To be insulted by the La Russophobe blog (quite possibly a Jamestown Foundation project) is a compliment in my book. So, thank you )))

    I’ve been through this routine with you guys many times before and I’m sure people don’t need to read our bickering. Bottom-line, I am open, honest, and transparent. You are not. You write anonymously and your hate-filled pro-NATO agenda is unfortunately also very anti-Russian. Not just anti Rssisskaya but also anti Ruskaya.

    When you choose to identify yourself we can resume our debate. Until then, put a sock in it.

    Timothy Post

    January 23, 2009 at 07:34

  6. Timothy, not only have you personally insulted Oleg by accusing him of not reading a blog he lists in his own sidebar, you’ve insulted him twice by making repeated SPAM comments on this post, comments that have NOTHING to do with the topic of his post. So for you to complain about being insulted is the height of hypocrisy. Undoubtedly, to Oleg, you sound just like a relic of the Soviet past — which is in fact exactly what you are.

    Did you even READ Oleg’s post about this dastardly murder? Why are you trying to change the subject? Are you afraid to have light shone on the Kremlin’s complicity in this horrific crime?

    Seems you lack the guts for anything except to attempt to smear us with ludicrous neo-Soviet lies when you think we aren’t watching. No big surprise there. Your typical and predictable attempt to avoid substantive discussion related to Markelov by making personal attacks on us is a great example of why Russian men don’t live to see their 60th year and work for $4/hour. The Russian stock market is down 70%, FOREX down 30% and the ruble down 20%, people are being brutally murdered and all you want to talk about is your love for the Russian female tennis game.

    So, so lame. We pity you.

    La Russophobe

    January 23, 2009 at 14:18

  7. Thank you La Russophobe. Your hatred of Russia is best exemplified by your comment above. Go ahead and admit it, you hate Russia. It’s quite plain for all to see.

    The joy you take (see above) in the challenges Russia now faces reveals to all that your anonymous hate blog doesn’t care about Russia and seeks to use good meaning people like Oleg to further your “war party” agenda of NATO expansion.

    Speaking of non-sequitur’s, you guys are the masters.

    Your group is to Russia what the Klu Klux Klan was to the American south- a hate group which hid in the cover of darkness. If you believe so strongly in your message come out and take responsibility for your words.

    I doubt you guys will ever show your faces publicly because you would then be an embarrassment to your secret benefactors. Opps, the Jamestown Foundation sponsors a hate blog.

    Timothy Post

    January 23, 2009 at 14:33

  8. La Russophobe clearly exaggerates in her use of emotional words and ad hominems, Timothy–I think your criticism on her language is very much correct. However, she mentions real facts, links to real analyses, and brings up topics that need real discussion. I for one would be much happier if her tone were more civil and less provocative; but I continue to read her blog (taking into account the obvious stylistic bias).

    We all want Russia to become a better country. We all want the whole world to become better. But I think we can agree that the current authoritarian position taken by the Kremlin — to mention an example relevant to the topic of Oleg’s post, its failure to issue any statements showing outrage and condemning the murders — is not going in this direction. One may fear for Russia’s future, as Paul Goble just did in his last post on the topic.


    January 24, 2009 at 01:35

  9. The Soviets said Solzhenitsyn hated Russia, that is why they deported him.

    They said Sakharov hated Russia.

    In fact, they pointed to millions who “hated” Russia, rounded them up and sent them off to new homes in the GULAG.

    And those who “loved” Russia, like Stalin and Mr. Post, drove the USSR into the ashcan of history. With a little more “love” from the odious, noxious likes of Mr. Post, Russia will be nothing but a figment of the imagination, a bit of Chinese history.

    With “friends” like Mr. Post, the Russian people need no enemies.


    January 24, 2009 at 06:09

  10. Just so that the record is clear, LR publisher Kim Zigfeld was the world leader in reporting (Pajamas Media, Publius Pundit and La Russophobe) on Oleg’s illegal induction into the armed forces in English. That reporting resulted in major stories about Oleg’s persecution in the Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune, which in turn netted Oleg op-ed space in the Post and the resulting spotlight earned him a shot at a major human rights award. We at LR consider ourselves to be among Oleg’s most ardent admirers and supporters, and have published a huge amount of content about him both before and after he was drafted.

    Oleg, his readers may already know, is Russian. We hate the bad Russians, but we adore the good ones. And we hold all of them accountable for their government’s reprehensible actions and policies both within Russia and outside it. We believe that only in so doing can they be shown true respect or induced to make the radical reforms that are necessary for their survival. Our confrontational style we deem absolutely necessary to convey the proper sense of urgency and outrage. With its life in jeopardy, there is no time for mincing words.

    La Russophobe

    January 24, 2009 at 19:16

  11. Oh boy, you guys are too much!

    You think one measly comment will wipe away 2+ years of anti-Russian vitriol about Russian people and culture and misogynist blog posts about Russian women athletes?

    Please explain why you feel that the sexist disrespect toward Maria Sharapova furthers your oh so “noble” pursuit for freedom and justice in Russia? Can’t wait to hear that one.

    You love Russia so much that you supported Saakashvili in August and McCain in November (how’d those work out for you?). You mocked the performance of the Russian Olympics team in Beijing. How is that related to your mission of loving “good” Russians but hating “bad” ones? How does the display of Hugh Hewitt sponsored “Revoke the Games” from Sochi, Russia sidebar badge reflect La Russophobe’s love of Russia?

    The most amazing claim you make, however, is that La Russophobe now wants the world to believe that it deserves credit for Oleg’s rise to awareness in the West and for winning a human rights award. I’m sure Oleg will be surprised to learn that he owes his success to La Russophobe.

    Nice try but no cigar boys.

    Timothy Post

    January 25, 2009 at 22:14

  12. Keep up the good work Oleg.

    The Polonium murder have interesting lawyers.

    The list of dead journalists, campaigners for civil liberties and those who seriously harm the interests of over-mighty state officials is getting longer by the day. On January 13th a former Chechen rebel, Umar Israilov, who had turned against Mr Kadyrov and formally complained to the European Court of Human Rights of his involvement in kidnappings and torture, was gunned down in Vienna.
    Last August Magomed Yevloyev, a journalist and owner of an opposition internet site in another north Caucasus republic, Ingushetia, was detained and “accidentally” shot by an interior ministry guard. His supporters blamed Ingushetia’s then president and interior minister. To the joy of the whole republic the Kremlin fired both men in October. But on December 30th Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev, appointed the former interior minister to a new job of “federal inspector” in Moscow. Impunity, it seems, still prevails.
    Mr Putin prides himself on having pacified Chechnya. The war is indeed over, but its legacy continues to poison and haunt Russia. Its methods have spread far beyond Chechnya to reach Moscow. In a recent road-rage incident in the Russian capital, two Chechen policemen bearing special security passes beat up and fired at a bus driver who cut in front of their Mercedes.
    Mr Medvedev once pledged to fight “legal nihilism” in Russian society. But neither he nor Mr Putin has uttered a word about the killing of Mr Markelov and his brave companion, both of whom tried to defend the law from the abuses of the state.

    Voldemar Puschnik

    January 29, 2009 at 02:31

  13. What a shame to have such leaders :” Mr Medvedev once pledged to fight “legal nihilism” in Russian society. But neither he nor Mr Putin has uttered a word about the killing of Mr Markelov and his brave companion, both of whom tried to defend the law from the abuses of the state. ” How these criminal leaders as Putin could pretend to be something else than a primitive uneducated KGB officer – equivalent of a Gestapo officer. How Russians could believe one second in such corrupted leaders who are bringing them directly to a disaster – exactly what Anna Politovskaia has decsribed until she was killed like today her young lawyer.

    Michael Gorbach

    January 29, 2009 at 02:58

  14. On a more optimistic note, it would seem that the recent conversation between Medvedev and reporters from Gorbachov’s Novaya Gazeta suggests that he (Medvedev) may be taking a more anti-authoritarian stance. Of course, he may be playing good cop to Putin’s bad cop, but then again he may not. I, for one, find Medvedev an interesting person. I’m curious about his next moves.


    January 30, 2009 at 11:22

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