Novaya Gazeta Journalist and Lawyer Shot Dead
International PEN is shocked by the January 20, 2009 murders of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova. Both had worked for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, whose staff live under constant harassment and considerable threat. 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.
On January 20, 2009, Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, 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 shot in the head, and later died in the hospital.
Baburova and Markelov, a human rights lawyer who had also worked for the newspaper and had represented journalist Anna Politkovskaya before her assassination October 2006, were attacked as they left a press conference at the Independent Press Center. 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 a 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," and added, “I understand now that there is no rule of law" in Russia.
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 January 21, 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.
Write A Letter
- Expressing shock at the killings of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasiya Baburova on January 19, 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 into the murders, bringing 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.
Send Your Letter To
President of the Russian Federation
Mr. Dmitry Medvedev
Fax: +7 095 206 5173 / 230 2408
Email: [email protected]
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation
Mr. Chaika Yuri Yakovlevich
Ishaya Dmitrovka, 15a GSP 3
Fax: +7 095 292 88 48
Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Russia in your country if possible.