Two charged over murders of Russian lawyer, reporterTwo Russian nationalists have been arrested and charged in the high-profile killings of a human rights lawyer and journalist who were gunned down in Moscow in January, officials said on Thursday.
The double murder of Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer who had exposed abuses by the Russian army in Chechnya, and Anastasia Baburova, a reporter at opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta Novaya Gazeta (Russian: Новая Газета) is a Russian newspaper. The name translated into English would become "New Newspaper". , were condemned by the European Union European Union (EU), name given since the ratification (Nov., 1993) of the Treaty of European Union, or Maastricht Treaty, to the
European Community .
The arrests this week were cautiously welcomed by human rights groups, who complain that many killings of Russian journalists and activists go unsolved.
Russia's investigative committee said a man and a woman, Nikita Tikhonov, born in 1980, and Yevgenia Khasis, born in 1985, had been charged with the killings. Both were said to be Moscow residents.
"Tikhonov and Khasis were detained on November 3 and 4 in an operation organised by the investigative committee and operatives from the interior ministry and the FSB (FrontSide Bus) See system bus.
FSB - front side bus security service," it said in a statement.
FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov Alexander Vasilyevich Bortnikov (in Russian: Александр Васильевич Бортников said the two had been caught as part of an investigation into an extreme nationalist group, which was amassing weapons and had been implicated im·pli·cate
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.
2. in a racist murder.
"A large amount of military firearms was confiscated con·fis·cate
tr.v. con·fis·cat·ed, con·fis·cat·ing, con·fis·cates
1. To seize (private property) for the public treasury.
2. To seize by or as if by authority. See Synonyms at appropriate.
adj. from this group," he said in a meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev (Russian: Дмитрий Анатольевич Медведев; born September 14, 1965 in Leningrad), is a Russian , according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. a transcript posted on the Kremlin website.
"In the course of additional investigations, another murder was solved, which was committed in September on motives of ethnic hatred Ethnic hatred, inter-ethnic hatred, racial hatred, or ethnic tension refers to sentiments and acts of prejudice and hostility towards an ethnic group in various degrees. See list of anti-ethnic and anti-national terms for specifical cases. , and in which this criminal group was involved," Bortnikov added.
Khasis was a manager at a company called Bukh Uchyot Torgovlya (Accounting Trade), while Nikita Tikhonov was unemployed, a Moscow court spokeswoman said, without giving more details on the suspects.
The pair has been charged with murder by an organised group, a crime that carries a maximum punishment of life in prison.
The Interfax news agency and Kommersant newspaper, citing law-enforcement sources, reported that the suspects were former members of a banned far-right group called Russian National Unity Russian National Unity (RNU) or All-Russian civic patriotic movement "Russkoye Natsionalnoye Edinstvo" (Russian: Всероссийское .
But the former leader of the group, Alexander Barkashov, told Interfax that the suspects were never members.
Kommersant reported that investigators believe the young woman tailed the victims and informed the killer on their whereabouts.
The masked gunman managed to flee after the shootings, carried out in broad daylight on a busy street.
The killings came just after Markelov gave a press conference on the case of Elza Kungayeva, an 18-year-old Chechen girl whose 2000 strangling by Russian army colonel Yury Budanov became a cause celebre of Russian rights activist.
In the case that highlighted abuses by the Russian army in Chechnya, Markelov had vowed to challenge a controversial court decision to grant early release to Budanov, who is viewed as a hero by some nationalist groups.
The lawyer had also represented outspoken journalist Anna Politkovskaya, murdered in 2006.
The other victim, Baburova, was a campaigning journalist who wrote about Russia's growing problem of racism and ultra-nationalism. Witnesses said she tried to detain the killer after he shot Markelov.
The deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, Sergei Sokolov, told AFP (1) (AppleTalk Filing Protocol) The file sharing protocol used in an AppleTalk network. In order for non-Apple networks to access data in an AppleShare server, their protocols must translate into the AFP language. See file sharing protocol. on Thursday that the arrests appear to show a genuine investigation.
"It looks like the truth," Sokolov said, though he added that he had only been following the case through the media.
The director of Human Rights Watch in Russia, Alison Gill, described the announcement as "positive news."
"Our only kind of concern is that the authorities take every possible measure to investigate not only who carried out the killings but also who ordered them," Gill said.
"The track record in such cases hasn't been good, so we're only cautiously optimistic," she added.