11/06/2009, 00.00
RUSSIA
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Moscow: assassins of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova arrested

Suspects are aged 24 and 29, linked to extreme right wing nationalist groups. The murder of the two human rights activists took place back in January of this year. Markelov and Baburova were investigating abuses by Russian soldiers in Chechnya.
Moscow (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Russian police have detained two individuals in connection with the murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and Novaya Gazeta freelance reporter Anastasia Baburova. The two suspects are Yevgenia Khasis, 24, and Nikita Tikhonov, 29, former militants with the banned Russian National Unity ultranationalist group. Both Tikhonov and Khasis were charged under Article 105, Section 2a, of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, concerning the “murder of two or more persons”.

Markelov and Baburova were assassinated on 19 January of this year (see “Lawyer and journalist killed, had been investigating crimes in Chechnya,” in AsiaNews, 20 January 2009).

According to leaked police information, Khasis was the lookout, whilst Tikhonov was the material executor of the double murder. Using a gun with silencer, he shot the victims through the head.

Police said the two (pictured during arrest) were also suspects in the murder of Ruslan Khalilov, an Azeri student killed in Moscow on 3 September.

Nikita Tikhonov, a member of the ultra rightwing nationalist group United team-88, might also be responsible for the murder of Alexander Riukhin, who was killed in 2006 in the Moscow underground station of Domodedovo. Stanislav Markelov was the Riukhin family’s attorney.

Relatives and colleagues of the slain lawyer and journalist want investigation findings to be released; at present, the evidence against Khasis and Tikhonov is deposited at the Basmanny District Court.

Markelov and Baburova were working on abused perpetrated by Russian soldiers in Chechnya.

The two were killed after they left a meeting over a court case in Ulyanovsk that would decide whether Yuri Budanov, the first Russian soldier ever convicted of crimes against civilians in the Caucasian republic, would be released or not.

Markelov was also the lawyer representing the family of Kheda Kungayeva, an 18-year-old Chechen woman killed by Budanov in March 2000.

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