Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Chechen responses to murders of Markelov and Baburova

Chechnya's human rights ombudsman Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, who is officially appointed by President Ramzan Kadyrov, has said in a public statement that he suspects Yuri Budanov, the Russian army colonel who was found guilty of murdering a young Chechen woman, Elza Kungayeva, but recently released on parole, of complicity in the murders of the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova in central Moscow yesterday, UNIAN reports. Kadyrov's press spokesman Lyoma Gudayev has also issued a statement carried by RIA Novosti in which he says that Markelov's murder will lead to a worsening of tension in inter-ethnic relations in the republic.

However, Michael Schwirtz, writing in the IHT, reports that

Lela Khamzayeva, another lawyer for Kungayeva's family, was adamant... that the killing of Markelov could not be linked to his connection with Budanov, because his role during the actual proceedings against the former colonel was, as she put it, "insignificant."

"If someone is trying to link this murder with Markelov's participation in the Budanov case, well, that's just ridiculous," she said

The article points out that the list of potential suspects is very long, and may include extremist groups that seek revenge for Markelov's role in pursuing cases that were not specifically Chechnya-related, such as those that concerned the racist killings and attacks that have been carried out in Russia by neo-fascist and xenophobic thugs with increasing frequency in recent years.

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