An Epitaph for Markelov

There are Few Like him Left

Olga Malysh

Translated from the Russian by The Other Russia

“Take care of yourself, ok?” Masha, a young nazbol hugged me, looking in my eyes.  That day some of the people who gathered at Prechistenka, the place where Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova died, said similar words to each other.  This pointless phrase had a new meaning in the context of the three deaths that happened on “black” Monday, the previous day.  It finally became clear that anyone with any visibility in the civil society [community] could be killed: an attorney, a journalist, an activist.  And one can only guess at who will be next.

It becomes especially frightening if one looks at the ranks of that same “civil society” – a few thousand people in all, who often know each other.

Guessing at why Stanislav Markelov was killed is pointless and fruitless.  He was involved in a multitude of high-profile cases.  He could have had enemies from practically every one of them.  Stanislav was a lawyer for the Kungayeva family, which means he was connected with the scandalous case of [Yury] Budanov.  In his time, Markelov represented the interests of the Chechen family in the case of Sergei Lapin (radio call sign “Cadet”), who was accused of torturing Grozny resident Zelimkhan Murdalov.  He was the attorney for Anna Politkovskaya, the victims in Blagoveshchensk (Rus), and “Nord-Ost”.  He fought for the right of amnesty for a Chechen resident, Musikhanov, who refused to serve under [Chechen President Ramzan] Kadyrov.  One can’t list everything.

Recently, Markelov had spoken as a lawyer for Mikhail Beketov, the editor-in-chief of the Khimkinskaya Pravda newspaper who was all but killed in the fall of last year.  Incidentally, they were friends.  The deceased lawyer wasn’t afraid of directly implicating the Khimki city administration in the attack on the journalist.  They say Stanislav was even conducting his own investigation.

Another critical detail – Markelov defended many activists in the Antifa [anti-fascist] movement.   Specifically, he took part in the murder cases of 19-year-old Alexander Ryukhin, teenager and skateboard enthusiast Stas Korepanov, and ecologist and anti-fascist Ilya Borodaenko by right wing [nationalist] radicals.  He was the attorney for the family of anti-fascist Alexei Krylov, and represented Alexei Olesinov, the Moscow leader of Antifa accused of hooliganism, in court.

This gives the anti-fascists and human rights activists grounds to assume that neo-nazis were involved in Markelov’s murder.  Stanislav himself said sometime that his name was on the list of “enemies” on certain right-wing radical websites.  In personal discussions, he called himself an adherent of the Antifa movement.  And the anti-fascists assert that journalist Anastasia Baburova was one of them as well.  “The perpetration of a crime, when two active anti-fascists are murdered in central Moscow in broad daylight leaves no doubt.  The murderers are neo-nazis!” the antifa write in their LiveJournal community.

Novaya Gazeta columnist Yulia Latynina leans to the theory that right wing radicals, connected with Budanov, killed Markelov.  “This is a case where everything is immediately clear,” she told me, reminding me that “fascists” had already attacked Stanislav for his part in the case against the former colonel.  “Budanov’s heroism consisted in that he raped a young Chechen girl, and the heroism of Markelov and Baburova’s killer in that he shot at defenseless people in the back of the head,” Yulia added.

Evidently, the law enforcement agencies are considering this as one of the main theories.  The leader of the [ultra-nationalist] Slavonic Union, Dmitri Demushkin, has already been called in for questioning to the Investigative committee.  He asserts that he will not likely be able to share any useful information with investigations.  Although that being said, he doesn’t hide that he always supported Budanov.  “Several years ago, I carried a poster with ‘Freedom to colonel Budanov’ to a May 9th [demonstration].  This has backfired for me,” he laments.

Demushkin thinks that someone among Budanov’s admirers organized the murder.  “If this was nationalists, then they were patriotically inclined.  People like colonel Kvachkov’s defenders,” he says.  The leader of the Slavonic Union explains his certainty by the fact that the murder was too professional and as result uncharacteristic of skinheads.  “A hatred of their enemies is nurtured into skinheads, these people attack, inflict 30-40 knife wounds.  This isn’t the case when they keep guard for days, and then kill in cold blood and calmly ride away on the metro,” he says.

Demushkin doesn’t exclude the possibility that the killer didn’t shoot at Anastasia Baburova by chance, but that he knew the journalist by sight as an active member of Antifa.  Possibly, this sealed her fate.  “In certain circles, Anastasia was disliked,” Demushkin explains, “she was part of many actions, including forceful ones.”

Perhaps Budanov’s name is most often raised in relation to the attorney’s murder.  Many people with completely different political views and convictions are inclined to connect Markelov’s involvement in the former colonel’s case with his death on Prechistenka.  And there are many reasons for this.  First of all, Markelov himself on numerous occasions expressed fear that the former colonel’s not-quite sane fanatics, who to this day continue to threaten the Kungayev family, would become active on Budanov’s release on parole.  Secondly, at the press-conference, about an hour before the murder, the attorney announced that he had appealed the actions of the Dimitrovgrask city court judge, who didn’t accept his appeal of Budanov’s parole and released him.

Thirdly, immediately after what happened, the young Chechen Elza Kungayeva’s father told journalists that Markelov had been threatened with violence if he didn’t step down from the process and didn’t stop working in the family’s defense.  The human rights ombudsman in Chechnya, Nurdi Nukhazhiyev insisted on this version as well.  “With this execution, former colonel Budanov’s adherents marked the release of their idol,” he said in an interview with Kommersant.

At the same time, opponents of the “Budanov version” among journalists and bloggers are calling it overly evident, and hence unlikely.  As always happens in such cases, the version about the involvement of the secret services in the murder of a famous attorney also lingers in the air, with [the secret services] working out a cunning multi-step combination.  But it also has its right to exist.  In part, the statement by the For Human Rights movement says, that what happened could be a provocation of “those forces, who want to scare the society, and justify the introduction of new, strict police powers.”

The version about a raging fascist underground makes many people uneasy: indeed, official “anti-fascist human rights activists” like Alexander Brod and Nikolai Svanidze reacted to it a little too quickly.  In tough times of crisis and instability, they will most certainly call on everyone to rally against the “fascist plague,” forgetting about their daily bread for a while.  If such rhetoric continues to be actively sown in the future, the version about the secret services won’t seem quite so conspiratorial.

All the more so since many have rushed to say the murder was meant to set an example.  Indeed, it happened in the city center, just a kilometer from the Kremlin, in a fairly lively place.  This gives reason enough for former FSB officer and political prisoner Mikhail Trepashkin to say that the murder was done by a professional.  In his opinion, a specially trained person shot at Markelov, not an amateur.  “I don’t exclude that this wasn’t his first time shooting [a gun],” Trepashkin says.  The former FSB investigator also adds that the law enforcement agencies should have no problems in solving the crime, because “there are a mass of trails.”  If only the desire was there.

In addition, Trepashkin says the fact that the crime happened in the center doesn’t necessarily indicate that it was “meant to set an example.”  It is possible that the killer preferred not to spy on his victim near his home, as often happens, since the neighbors may have noticed a strange person and could  identify him later.

As for the weapon that fired the shot, according to the investigation’s latest data, it was a Makarov pistol.  It is not so simple to get one.  As is known, it is banned from free sale in our country.  The type of weapon in question is only available to certain agencies, which according to Trepashkin’s statement then trade on black market.  The highest military ranks are directly involved in this business, and as result the [black market] “stall” is still thriving.  As the former FSB employee notes, weapons were supplied from state munitions depots into Chechnya in precisely this manner in 1995.  “That is how weapons get in the hands of killers,” Trepashkin sums up.

How the killer got the pistol, is of course, important for those investigating what happened, but secondary to understanding why it happened.  Since they could have beaten the renowned attorney to death, like Yury Chervochkin and nazbol Anton Stradymov.  Or they could have poisoned him, like Yury Shchekochikhin and Alexander Litvinenko.

“They’ll kill him.  There are few like him left,” one of my friends said around a month ago, after he heard about Markelov on television.  I didn’t agree then.  I couldn’t have imagined that something could happen to a cheerful and joyful person like Stanislav.  So many dangerous cases behind him, and then suddenly he’s killed.

It happened.

Markelov differed from many of his colleagues in that he didn’t take political cases for the hell of it, for the publicity.  If he defended someone, then it was in earnest, with an intent to win.  And it’s hard just to call him a lawyer.  Human rights defender is more fitting.  And he did everything with a smile, jokingly.  In the same way, he never paid any mind to the threats against him.

On New Year’s, Stanislav sent me a congratulations.  I didn’t understand right away who it was from.  I didn’t recognize the phone number… And now I don’t believe in omens anymore.

How many more deaths like this are still to come?  And how many more people must die for our country’s people to wake up?

4 responses to “An Epitaph for Markelov

  1. ” The former FSB investigator also adds that the law enforcement agencies should have no problems in solving the crime, because “there are a mass of trails.” If only the desire was there.”

    There is no doubt in my mind that all of these murders have been “solved”. The resources are there. It’s naive to think that any high profile killing happens in Putin’s FSB hell hole without the FSB knowing the who and why of it. Approval consists whether the assassins are directly ordered by Kremlin, Inc or rogue operators in never bringing anyone to justice.

    Russians being the ultimate comatose sheep are going to keep living like helpless serfs until the day comes when the victim’s funerals are marked by thousands attending instead of one or two hundred. Acts of organized civil engagement and disobedience rarely seem to enter their collective minds.

  2. A good man, and a fine young woman.
    Once again Russia is a monster, eating its best and brightest to feed the darkness in its soul.

  3. I wouldn’t exactly call an opportunistic lawyer who defended Chechen terrorists “the best and the brightest”

  4. Well AKM, you seem to be a brainless little russophile.

    Markelov defended those FALSLEY accused of terrorism, such as the young girl murdered by Budanov:

    “In relation to the case of Kungayeva, Budanov was charged with three crimes: kidnapping resulting in death, abuse of office accompanied by violence with serious consequences, and murder of an abductee. No charges have been brought expressly for the beating and torture Kungaeva endured prior to her death. He was also charged in the beating up a subordinate officer, threatening superior officers with a weapon, and other crimes.

    Budanov claimed that he detained Kungaeva on suspicion of being a sniper, and that he killed her during interrogation. The investigation, however, reportedly found that no member of the Kungaev family had in any way been suspected of involvement in the anti-Russian activity.

    Budanov used his official position and a military vehicle to remove Kungaeva from her home, and detained Kungaeva at a military installation; he was thus charged with exceeding (prevysheniye) his official position with violence resulting in serious consequences, which is punishable by three to ten years of imprisonment (article 286.3 of the criminal code).”

    She was also raped:

    “The forensic physician, a Captain in the Russian military medical service, found three tears in her hymen and one in the mucous membrane of her rectum, and the report concludes that she was penetrated anally and vaginally by a blunt object after death.

    Three of Budanov’s subordinates, Sergeants Li-En-Shou and Grigoriev and a Private Yegorev, were found to be responsible for this. Charges against all three were simultaneously brought and dropped under the May 26, 2000 amnesty law.

    There are concerns that case against them was brought in an attempt to portray the sexual assault as an act that occurred after her death, in order to avoid bringing rape charges.”

    As stated above, she was not a sniper, she was a non-combatant, even the Russian prosecuters admit this fact. This was a RAPE & MURDER of a young woman, one of hundereds of thousands killed in Russian war crimes in Chechnya.

    He also was the main defender of journalists such as Ana Polytovskaya, and also Mikhail Beketov,0,7879861.story

    Markelov was a lawyer for the most high-profile cases in relation to employees of «Novaya gazeta» and had an official contract with the publication. He conducted the case about the killing of «Novaya gazeta» journalist Igor Domnikov, since the year 2003 all cases that were initiated based on the materials of Anna Politkovskaya, the case of OMON employee S.V. Lapin (nickname «cadet»), who had committed atrocity in relation to the peaceful citizens of Chechnya. Represented the interests of victims in the criminal case of «Nord-Ost», in the mass police lawlessness in Blagoveshchensk. Stanislav Markelov was the first and only non-local lawyer working for a long time directly on the territory of the Chechen republic.

    AKM, I would suggest you actually read what this man did for his fellow citizens who had been beaten, raped, abused, and murdered by the OMON, FSB, Russian Army, and KGB mafia that run Russia today.

    He was not “opportunistic” at all, idealistic yes.
    Your disgusting mess of a country needs more people like him.

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