Double murder reveals culture of impunity and injustice: human rights lawyer and journalist slain in Moscow

 FreeMediaOnline.org Logo. FreeMediaOnline.org & Free Media Online Blog, January 21, 2009, San Francisco — The murders in Moscow on Monday of the human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the young journalist Anastasia Barburova call attention to the nearly complete lack of the rule of law and press freedom in Mr. Putin’s Russia.  FreeMediaOnline.org strongly condemns these murders and calls on the Russian authorities to bring the murderers to justice.

Ted Lipien, president of FreeMediaOnline.org, a San Francisco-based media freedom nonprofit, said that the Bush Administration did not have a strong response to the brutal murder in 2006 of the independent journalist Anna Politkovskaya. The bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which manages U.S. government-funded international broadcasting, terminated Voice of America (VOA) radio programs to Russia in July 2008 and has not responded to reports that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) journalists working in Russia are being intimidated by the secret police.

“We hope that the Obama Administration will increase U.S. support for media freedom in Russia by allowing VOA and RFE/RL journalists to expand their coverage of human rights abuses without fear of reprisals from the Russian authorities and criminal elements,” said FreeMediaOnline.org president Ted Lipien.

20 January 2009

Double murder reveals culture of impunity and injustice

SOURCE: ARTICLE 19, London

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) – The following is a joint action by ARTICLE 19 and Index on Censorship:

Russia: double murder another blow for human rights

The shocking murders of the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the young journalist Anastasia Barburova on Monday brings Russia’s human rights record to a new low. The crime is compounded by the knowledge that Russia has a culture where impunity reigns and murderers are rarely brought to justice. Even in the case of a journalist as famous as Anna Politkovskaya, after a rare two-year murder investigation it is the alleged accomplices who are on trial – while the murderer remains at large.

Stanislav Markelov was well known for his work as a human rights lawyer, particularly in Chechnya. Markelov represented the family of 18-year-old Kheda Kungayeva, who was murdered by Yuri Budanov – the first senior officer to be convicted of human rights abuse during the Chechen campaigns.

Markelov had announced that he would be challenging Budanov’s early release last week.

Those who are brave enough to expose human rights abuses in Russia risk their lives. Over the past few months, victims have included Umar Israilov, a Chechen who claimed that he had been tortured by President Ramzan Kadyrov and had filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights. He was shot dead in Vienna last week. Last November, Mikhail Beketov, a local newspaper editor, was assaulted in the Moscow suburb of Khimki and left in a coma. Beketov had been a fearless critic of the local administration.

Last summer, Magomed Yevloyev, who owned the website www.ingushetia.ru and also bravely exposed abuses, was shot dead in a police car as he was being taken away for questioning. All these cases represent a striking and widespread level of lawlessness.

We would like to remind the Russian authorities that as a State Party to the European Convention on Human Rights, Russia has agreed to secure the human rights of all within its jurisdiction, including the right to life and to freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19, English PEN and Index on Censorship call on the Russian authorities to do everything in their power to bring those responsible for the murders of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Barburova to justice – and to demonstrate the will to address the continuing culture of impunity.
For further information, contact ARTICLE 19, 6-8 Amwell Street, London, EC1R 1UQ, U.K., tel: +44 20 7278 9292, fax: +44 20 7278 7660, e-mail: info@article19.org, Internet: http://www.article19.org

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