Monday, January 19, 2009

Russia: land of Death Squads and Secret Police, Government Monitoring and generally BIG Lies.

A country where 50% of the news must be positive - be order of the Kremlin.

A country where the US must be portrayed as bad or the enemy - by order of the Kremlin.

A country where more journalists have died in the last eight years, than have died in the US in eighty years (including wars) - many believe, by order of the Kremlin.

A country where new laws, created by the Kremlin, prohibit dissension and opposition.

A country that cuts off gas to neighbors, out of anger and opposition to the neighbor developing relations with the 'enemy' US.

Russian journalist wounded in Moscow dies

Jan 19 02:14 PM US/Eastern

MOSCOW (AP) - A newspaper editor says a journalist who was shot along with a human-rights lawyer on a Moscow street has died in the hospital.

Novaya Gazeta editor Sergei Sokolov says Anastasia Baburova died on the operating table hours after Monday's shooting.

A deputy editor at the newspaper, Andrei Lipsky, said earlier that Baburova was shot when she tried to intervene after a gunman fatally shot lawyer Stanislav Markelov. Baburova was a freelance journalist who had worked for the paper.

Markelov was fighting against the early release of a Russian colonel convicted of murdering a Chechen woman in 2000. He had also represented slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya as well as Chechens and others who reported abuse at the hands of the authorities.

The above was the update to the following story

MOSCOW (AP)—A human-rights lawyer who fought against the early release of a Russian colonel convicted of murdering a Chechen woman was shot dead on a Moscow street Monday, days after the officer left prison, law enforcement authorities said.

A journalist also was wounded in the attack, a newspaper editor said.

The broad-daylight slaying of Stanislav Markelov sparked anger among Chechens—already upset by the release of last week of Col. Yuri Budanov—and prompted an outpouring of grief and ire among Russia's beleaguered rights activists.

"This is a horrible, frightening crime," said Tatyana Lokshina of the Human Rights Watch, comparing it to the 2006 slaying of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya—a client of Markelov's and a fellow enemy of rights abuses in Chechnya and across former President Vladimir Putin's Russia.

Markelov, 34, was gunned down in central Moscow near a building where he had just held a news conference, about half a mile (1 kilometer) from the Kremlin, said Viktoria Tsyplenkova, a spokeswoman for the Investigative Committee of the Moscow prosecutor's office.

Markelov was shot in the back of the head at close range by an attacker who followed him after the news conference, wore a stocking-style mask and had a silencer on his gun—clear signs of a planned killing, state-run RIA-Novosti news agency reported, citing an unidentified law enforcement official.

A deputy editor of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, Andrei Lipsky, said freelancer Anastasia Baburova, who had written for the paper, was shot when she tried to intervene after Markelov was shot. She was taken to a hospital, but Lipsky said he did not know her condition.

Markelov, who represented the family of the 18-year-old Chechen woman Budanov killed in 2000, had told reporters he was considering filing an international court appeal against Budanov's early release, the RIA-Novosti news agency reported.

The colonel was freed last week with more than a year left in his murder sentence.
Budanov was convicted in 2003 and sentenced to 10 years—including time served—for strangling Heda Kungayeva. He admitted killing her, saying he believed she was a rebel sniper in the Kremlin's war against Chechen insurgents.

Budanov's case was closely watched as a test of authorities' determination to punish rights abuses in Chechnya.

Kungayeva's father Visa Kungayev, who has taken refuge in Norway with his family, said Markelov told him when they spoke Friday that he had been threatened with death if he refused to drop the case, the Interfax news agency reported.

Budanov's release drew criticism from rights activists and lawyers, who pointed out that inmates convicted of non-violent crimes but considered Kremlin foes—such as former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky—have been refused early release.

Markelov had represented Politkovskaya, who wrote extensively about human rights violations in Chechnya. He also had represented activists who have battled abuses the Russia's military and a Chechen woman who was a victim in a 2002 hostage-taking attack on a Moscow theater.

"He was always on the front line," said Alexander Cherkasov of the human rights organization Memorial.

Cherkasov said Markelov was instrumental in another case involving alleged atrocities by the Russian military in Chechnya—the 2005 conviction of a police officer, Sergei Lapin, who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for the torture and "disappearance" of a young Chechen man.

Markelov spent months trying to persuade authorities to prosecute Lapin for allegedly threatening Politkovskaya's life. On April 16, 2004, he was riding home on the Moscow subway when five young men accosted him and beat him unconscious, he told a journalist later that year.
He said one of his attackers shouted "You asked for this!"

When he awoke, his cell phone and papers on the Politkovskaya case were gone, although his wallet and cash were untouched. When he tried to report the attack, he said, police accused him of faking his injuries.

A Chechen parliament deputy, Isa Khadzhimuratov, said Monday he believes Markelov's killing was likely connected to the Budanov case." Like a real patriot, Markelov decided to restore justice and the protect interests of his clients," Khadzhimuratov said.

One of Markelov's last clients was Mokhamadsalakh Masayev, who alleged in 2006 he was held in a secret prison in Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's home village and subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment. Masayev was abducted in Chechnya in August; his whereabouts remain unknown.

"For victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya he was a hero," Lokshina said.

Markelov also represented the victims of a 2004 police sweep in the Ural Mountains city of Blagoveshchensk, where hundreds of residents were beaten by police. He has defended anti-fascist movements and has been threatened by nationalist groups as a result, according to Russian media and activists.

Since the late 1990s, the Federal Security Service has often tried to question Markelov as a witness to prevent him from participating in trials as a lawyer, Cherkasov said.

"When one needed a bold journalist, one called Politkovskaya, when one needed a bold lawyer, one called Markelov," said Kremlin critic and rights activist Lev Ponomaryov.


Make Mine Freedom - 1948

American Form of Government

Who's on First? Certainly isn't the Euro.