RAN 7/09: RUSSIA

May 24, 2011

RUSSIA: Two sentenced for murder of journalist Anastasiya Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International welcomes the conviction and sentencing of two people in connection to the 2009 double murder of freelance journalist Anastasiya Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, in a trial described by the Centre to Protect Journalists as ‘a landmark victory in the fight against impunity in press killings in Russia’.

The two were attacked in Moscow on 20 January 2009 as they left a press conference at the Independent Press Centre. Markelov, a human rights lawyer, had worked for Novaya Gazeta and had represented the journalist Anna Politkovskaya before she herself was assassinated in October 2006, as well as the families of Chechens who had disappeared. Just hours before his killing, he had issued a statement protesting the early release of a Russian army officer who had been convicted in 2003 for the murder of a Chechen girl. Anastasiya Baburova was walking alongside Markelov when he was shot. She reportedly attempted to apprehend the gunman, but was herself shot in the head, and later died in hospital. Baburova had joined Novaya Gazeta in October 2008 and had been researching neo-Nazism and race-motivated crimes in Russia.

On 5 November 2009 a Russian Investigative Committee charged Nikita Tikhonov (29) and Yevgenia Khasis (24), with Markelov and Baburova’s murder. The accused were reported to have been members of the Russian National Union, an ultra-nationalist radical group which has been banned in the country.

Tikhonov was found guilty on 28 April 2011 of killing Markelov and Baburova, as well as of the illegal appropriation and possession of firearms and the forgery of personal identity documents. He was sentenced on 05 May 2011 to life imprisonment in a strict-regime penal colony. Khasis was declared an accomplice in the murder and found guilty of illegally possessing firearms, and will serve an 18-year term in a regular-regime penal colony. Their lawyers have filed an appeal against the conviction.

Thank you to all PEN members who wrote appeals following the murders of Markelov and Baburova. No further action is required.

The period for signing this petition is now over.