Hundreds Remember Slain Lawyer

MTA man laying flowers Tuesday at the site where lawyer Stanislav Markelov, in photo right, and journalist Anastasia Baburova, in photo center, were fatally shot Monday night.
Hundreds of people carrying flowers and candles visited the blood-smeared spot on Tuesday in central Moscow where lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anastasia Baburova were slain, many expressing indignation with tears in their eyes.

Markelov, 34, was shot dead Monday afternoon on Ulitsa Prechistenka after holding a news conference decrying the early release of former army Colonel Yury Budanov, who was serving 10 years for killing a Chechen woman, Elza Kungayeva, 18, in 2000. Markelov, who died at the scene, had represented Kungayeva's family.

Baburova, 25, a freelance reporter for the liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was shot in the head while trying to shield Markelov from the unidentified gunman, newspaper editor-in-chief Sergei Sokolov said. She was rushed to the hospital but died without regaining consciousness.

Human rights activists, lawyers, students and ordinary civilians came to the cordoned-off crime scene near Kropotskinskaya metro station on Tuesday, laying flowers and flickering candles on the now-frozen bloodstains. Pictures of the two victims surrounded the makeshift memorial, and several anti-Kremlin posters were placed on a wall along the sidewalk.

The black plastic sheet that had covered Markelov's body a day earlier and the stained gloves of crime scene investigators remained close to the scene.

At noon, a Russian Orthodox priest held a memorial service at the site, stressing in his speech that Markelov and Baburova had died on the same day that the church celebrates the Epiphany.

"I am deeply shocked by the crime," said Public Chamber member Alla Gerbert, who visited the site. "This is not the first attack against Markelov. He was once beaten up by skinheads on the train because of his work.
"I don't think the murder was a act of provocation, but Budanov has lots of supporters," she added.

Budanov, convicted in July 2005 for the murder of Kungayeva, walked free from an Ulyanovsk prison on Thursday, sparking outrage among the victim's family and senior Chechen officials. Budanov admits to killing Kungayeva but says he thought she was a sniper and had acted in a fit of rage during an interrogation. A court last month ordered him freed early for good behavior and time served in pretrial detention.

Among Markelov's other clients were Khimkinskaya Pravda editor Mikhail Beketov, an anti-corruption campaigner who was gravely beaten in Khimki, just north of Moscow, in unclear circumstances last year; Chechen Yana Neserkhoyeva, a Nord-Ost hostage accused of helping terrorists in 2002; and Zelimkhan Murdalov, a kidnapped Grozny resident assisted by Novaya Gazeta reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who herself was shot dead in central Moscow in 2006.

Baburova, a night journalism student at Moscow State University, wrote many critical articles about fascism and human rights abuses.

She will be buried in her hometown of Sevastopol, Novaya Gazeta editor Sokolov said. Her relatives arrived in Moscow on Tuesday, and the newspaper will help them transport the body to Sevastopol, Sokolov said.

An anonymous new post appeared on Baburova's LiveJournal blog on Tuesday, reading, "Thanks to everyone for their sincerely condolences." Funeral arrangements for Markelov have not been decided yet.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov awarded Markelov posthumously with a medal for his "merits to the Chechen republic," the Chechen government reported on its official web site on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people rallied in Grozny on Tuesday, calling for Markelov's killers to be brought to justice.
Kungayeva's family, who live in asylum in Norway, have been taken under the protection of the Norwegian police, RIA-Novosti reported.

Budanov called the killing "a provocation" in a telephone interview published in Komsomolskaya Pravda on Tuesday. He also expressed his condolences to the families of the slain lawyer and reporter.

The Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on Tuesday under Crime Code Article 105 — the murder of two or more people — and Article 222 — the illegal acquisition and possession of guns.

Investigators believe that the gunman was either a professional killer or an individual who disagreed with Markelov on his human rights views, the Investigative Committee said on its web site. They are considering the possibility that the reporter might have been purposely targeted by the gunman as well.