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Russia9 February 2009

Seven people arrested over tribute to slain human rights lawyer and journalist

Seven people were arrested yesterday after taking part in a tribute to slain human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasia Baburova in which flowers were lain at the spot where they were gunned down in the centre of Moscow on 29 January.

Interior ministry Omon anti-riot police arrested them on the grounds that they were holding an “unauthorised” demonstration. Human rights activists denied the claim. A total of 15 people took part in the tribute.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev met on 29 January with Novaya Gazeta editor Dmitri Muratov and one of the newspaper’s main shareholders, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, to offer them his condolences for the 19 January murder of one of its reporters, Anastasia Baburova.

Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanlislav Markelov were gunned down together in central Moscow immediately after a news conference given by Markelov, in a double murder that has stunned human rights activists and journalists in Russia and abroad. The lack of any reaction from the Russian authorities was widely commented.

President Medvedev said his silence was motivated by a desire not to influence the investigation.

Markelov, who was aged 34, was buried on 23 January in Moscow. Baburova, 25, was buried three days later in Sebastopol. She was the fourth Novaya Gazeta journalist to meet a violent death in connection with her work.


Reporters Without Borders attends human rights lawyer’s funeral in Moscow

Reporters Without Borders attends human rights lawyer’s Reporters Without Borders attended the funeral in Moscow today of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was gunned down in the city centre four days ago. Elsa Vidal, the head of the Europe/Ex-USSR desk voiced her condolences and support to the Markelov family on the press freedom organisation’s behalf.

Hundreds of people, including diplomats and human rights activists, accompanied Markelov’s brother and window during a ceremony marked by expressions of grief and emotion. No government representative attended the funeral.

“The silence of the Russian authorities after this courageous and exemplary lawyer’s murder casts a disturbing shadow over the future of the rule of law in Russia,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Alexander Cherkasov of the human rights NGO Memorial said: “The absence of the Russian authorities and the lack of official reactions is an outrage.” Lev Ponomarev of Human Rights Movement said: “Foreign officials have issued statements but not our elected officials. There is always a double standard in this kind of case. When there are reactions, they are minimal and very often negative.”

As a human rights lawyer, Markelov specialised in Chechnya and press cases. He had acted for Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist murdered in Moscow in 2006, and Mikhael Beketov, a journalist who is still hospitalised as a result of a violent attack last November. He was murdered just after giving a news conference in the city centre on 19 January.

A funeral service was also held today for Anastasia Baburova, the Novaya Gazeta journalist who was fatally shot when she tried to prevent Markelov’s murderer from getting away.

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