Una bogado dedicado a la defensa de los derechos humanos, Stanislav Markelov, fue asesinado ayer por un pistolero en el centro de Moscú. Markelov representaba a la familia de Elza Kungayeva, una joven chechena asesinada en el 2000. El caso atrajo atención porque se juzgaba por primera vez a un oficial del ejército ruso por matar a un civil en Chechenia. Ese oficial, Yuri Budanov, fue puesto en libertad la semana pasada. Markelov recibió un tiro en la cabeza después de una conferencia de prensa sobre este caso. Una periodista que lo acompañaba resultó herida.
20-I-09, ap, lavanguardia
Russian authorities should immediately investigate the killing of Stanislav Markelov, a prominent Russian human rights lawyer, and bring his killers to justice, Human Rights Watch said today. Markelov was shot dead on the afternoon of January 19, 2009, on Prechistenka Street in central Moscow, and a newspaper intern with him was fatally wounded.
"We are appalled and deeply saddened by Markelov's murder," said Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. "For victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya, Markelov's name was synonymous with hope for justice. His murder shows that those who speak out against abuses and work to hold abusers to account risk their lives."
An intern for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, Anastasiya Baburova, who was with Markelov at the time of the murder, was hospitalized with a severe head injury as a result of the shooting, and died in hospital.
Markelov represented numerous victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya. His clients included the Kungaev family, whose daughter, Elza, was murdered by Colonel Yuri Budanov in 2000, and the Murdalov family, whose son was tortured and forcibly disappeared by Russian police in 2001. Budanov was sentenced in 2003 to 10 years of imprisonment for the murder of Elza Kungaeva.
Markelov also represented Mokhmadsalakh Masaev, a Chechen who said he was held in a secret prison in Tsenteroi, the native village of President Ramzan Kadyrov of Chechnya, for more than four months in 2006-2007 and subjected to inhuman treatment. Masaev was abducted in the Chechen capital, Grozny, on August 3, 2008, several weeks after Novaya Gazeta, a leading Russian independent newspaper, published an interview in which he accused Kadyrov of running illegal prisons in Chechnya.
Several critics of the authorities in Russia, particularly those who spoke out about torture, abductions and extrajudicial executions in the North Caucasus, have lost their lives in the past few years, most recently last week.
On January 13, Umar Israilov, a Chechen who had filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights alleging that he had been tortured by Kadyrov, was shot dead in Vienna. Magomed Yevloyev, the owner of Ingushetiya.Ru website, which reported on human rights abuses during counterterrorist operations in Ingushetia, a republic in the North Caucasus which borders Chechnya, was killed in a police car on August 31, 2008, after he was taken in for questioning by police at Magas airport in Ingushetia. In the most prominent case, Anna Politkovskaia, a leading Russian independent journalist and human rights champion, was killed in the entrance of her apartment building in the center of Moscow on October 7, 2006.
"Markelov's killing evokes the murder of Anna Politkovskaia," said Denber. "Russia's international partners, especially the European Union, should urgently press the Russian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for these killings. And they should push Moscow to ensure the security of people like Markelov, who are fighting for justice in Russia."
Human Rights Watch extends its deepest sympathies to the families and colleagues of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova.
Stanislav Markelov was shot in the head by a masked gunman at 2.30 pm local time on Monday in a busy Moscow street less than one kilometre from the Kremlin. A reporter accompanying Mr Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, was also fatally injured in the incident.
The lawyer - like journalist Anna Politkovskaya, murdered in 2006 - was strongly associated with the fight against human rights abuses by Russian authorities in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya, where a crowd of 2,500 people gathered on Tuesday to mark his death.
Large scale insurgency in Chechnya ended following the 1999 to 2000 war and has been kept down since 2005 by the regime of pro-Moscow Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, whose militia has been accused of killings and kidnappings by NGO Human Rights Watch.
But violence in the neighbouring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia is rising sharply, with almost daily bombings and shootings against local authorities threatening to flare into a wider conflict in an EU-neighbouring region that last August saw full scale war in Georgia.
Russian ambassador to the EU Vladimir Chizhov told EUobserver the EU should not worry about the escalating tension, blaming the problem on "organised crime" and "some foreign circles that might be interested in stirring extremism in that part of Russia."
"It would have been easy to pacify it [the North Caucasus] using resources of the federal centre. That would have worked short term. But the idea is to promote long term peace and harmony," he said, citing efforts to fund new jobs.
An internal paper on Russia relations drafted by EU diplomats late last year paints a different picture however, pointing to cases of torture and enforced disappearances perpetrated by local security forces as a cause of the region's problems.
"Stabilisation is prevented by a climate of fear and impunity of human rights abusers ...[which spreads] radicalisation, insecurity and dissatisfaction with local governments," the EU text said back in November.
"Sadly, the murder of Mr Markelov is only the latest in a series of attacks on human rights defenders, journalists and NGO activists," the Czech EU presidency said in its statement on Tuesday.