.... Demand that Killers of Human Rights Defenders in Russia be Brought to Justice
On January 19, Stanislav Markelov, a human rights defender and lawyer, was gunned down in the middle of the afternoon in downtown Moscow. Anastasia Baburova, a freelance reporter working for the newspaper Novaya Gazeta who was with Markelov and tried to intervene, was also shot and died hours later.
Markelov was a well-known and respected figure in Russia's human rights community. He was the president and founder of the Rule of Law Institute, an organization formed to protect human rights and the rule of law. As a lawyer, he represented victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya, independent journalists, and victims of neo-Nazi violence. Baburova had written a number of reports on Russia's growing problem of racism and neo-Nazi violence for Novaya Gazeta.
Russian human rights defenders, including lawyers, journalists, and other activists, are used to dangerous conditions such as violence, threats, and unfair prosecution. But the brazen killing of two human rights defenders, in daylight and in front of dozens of witnesses, marks an alarming deterioration brought about by impunity for prior attacks. The Russian authorities must conduct a prompt, thorough, and transparent investigation, identify those responsible, and bring them to justice.
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