James BarbourJames Barbour, Washington
Yesterday afternoon lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered less than a mile away from this Embassy, shot at close range with a silenced pistol. Stanislav Markelov died instantly, Anastasia Baburova died in hospital a few hours later.
Markelov's most recent case - the latest in a string of high-profile human rights cases - involved representing the family of Elza Kungaeva, an 18-year-old Chechen woman raped and killed by a Russian army Colonel. Her killer was recently released from prison, having served three years of a ten-year sentence. According to Elza Kungaeva's father yesterday, Markelov had received a number of death threats by SMS in recent weeks.
I didn't know Anastasia Baburova but, from what I've heard, she was young, articulate and had a promising career ahead of her. On the afternoon of their death she had interviewed Markelov for Novaya Gazeta - the same newspaper where Anna Politkovskaya, murdered outside her Moscow apartment in 2006, worked.
I do, though, know Novaya Gazeta's Editor, Dmitriy Muratov. Muratov said this morning that they have recovered the USB stick containing the interview recording, and will certainly publish it.
He's a brave man.
20 January 2009