Wed, Jan 21, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Russian human rights lawyer, reporter shot dead

ABUSES Human Rights Watch denounced the murder of Stanislav Markelov, saying that the international community should push Moscow to bring the killers to justice

AFP , MOSCOW

A masked gunman on Monday killed a human rights lawyer who had exposed one of the most notorious cases of abuses by Russia? army in Chechnya, together with a journalist who died later in hospital.

Law enforcement sources confirmed that lawyer Stanislav Markelov had been gunned down on a busy street in central Moscow, while a woman, Anastasiya Baburova, was hospitalized with a bullet wound to the head.

The opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta confirmed the death of the 25-year-old intern reporter Baburova in hospital on Monday evening.

?he doctors did everything in their power. A few minutes ago, Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasiya Baburova died,?the paper said on its Web site.

Baburova had written a number of reports on Russia? growing problem of racism and ultra-要ationalism for Novaya Gazeta, the paper of the campaigning journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was assassinated in 2006.

Russian and international human rights groups expressed their concern over the killings and urged Russian authorities to 苞onduct a thorough and immediate investigation.

US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounced the murder, saying the international community should push Moscow to bring the killers to justice.

?ussia? international partners, especially the European Union, should urgently press the Russian authorities to bring to justice those responsible for these killings,?said Rachel Denber, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW.

Markelov and Baburova had just emerged from a press conference given by Markelov on the latest turn in the case of Elza Kungayeva, the 18-year-old Chechen whose 2000 strangling by Russian army colonel Yury Budanov became a cause celebre, highlighting systematic abuse by the Russian army in the war in Chechnya.

Budanov was released from jail on Friday after serving most of his 10-year sentence for the young Chechen woman? murder.

Markelov had vowed to challenge the granting of early release to Budanov, who was convicted in 2003 after pressure for a conviction by human rights activists, while ultra-nationalists had rallied to his side.

RIA-Novosti news agency quoted a police source as saying evidence had already been gathered from witnesses to the killing, who testified the gunman had lain in wait as Markelov gave the lunchtime press conference.

?he killer chose his moment, when there weren? many people in the way, quickened his step and shot the lawyer in the back of the head,?the police source said.

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