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Court to consider appeal of lawyer Markelov murder convicts

September 14, 2011, 10:19 UTC+3

In early May 2011, the Moscow City Court sentenced Tikhonov to life imprisonment and Khasis - to 18 years in prison

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MOSCOW, September 14 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider quashing of the sentence to Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgeniya Khasis who were convicted for killing lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.

The lawyers of the convicts in their appeal asked the Supreme Court to quash the sentence as illegal and unjustified.

This brutal crime was committed in downtown Moscow on January 9, 2009 and provoked major public outcry.

In early May 2011, the Moscow City Court sentenced Tikhonov to life imprisonment and Khasis - to 18 years in prison. The court decision is based on the verdict of the jury, which found the defendants guilty and not deserving leniency. The Moscow City Court agreed with the guilty verdict and did not refer the case for retrial.

The verdict noted that Tikhonov and Khasis in advance formed with so far unidentified persons a stable group for the murder of Markelov whom they disliked in connection with its activities to protect the rights of victims of ethnic crimes.

Judge Alexander Zamashnyuk partially met a civil action by Baburova's parents and ordered Tikhonov to pay 40,000 roubles as compensation for legal expenses. Also, Tikhonov will have to pay Larisa and Eduard Baburov two million roubles in moral damages. Baburova's parents intend to donate the money to the department of journalism at the Moscow State University to help low-income students.

Lawyer of Inter-Republican Bar Moscow Markelov and Novaya Gazeta string correspondent Baburova were shot to death on January 19, 2009. An unidentified gunman attacked Markelov, 34, and Baburova, 25 in Prechistenka Street near the Christ the Saviour Cathedral in downtown Moscow. They were returning from a news conference. Baburova, a 5th-year student at the MGU department of journalism, died in hospital. She covered nationalism and neo-nazism.

Murder charges were brought against Tikhonov and Khasis.

Tikhonov and Khasis were arrested in November 2009. The suspects denied their guilt. Tikhonov initially admitted his involvement but later disavowed his statements saying he had been under pressure from the investigators.

According to the investigators, the motive behind the murder was “intolerance and ideological hate, as well as the hate the suspects felt toward the lawyer's professional activity to protect the rights and freedoms of persons who supported the anti-Nazi ideology.”

Tikhonov used a 7.65mm Browning to commit the murder. He fired two shots at Markelov and one at Baburova. Markelov died on the spot, and Baburova was rushed to hospital, but her gunshot wound proved lethal.

A search in the house of Tikhonov and Khasis on November 3, 2009 found firearms, ammunition and explosive devices. The Prosecutor General's Office said the murder had been committed together with unidentified members of an organised group who shared neo-Nazi and nationalist views.

Stanislav Yuryevich Markelov (20 May 1974 – 19 January 2009) was a human rights lawyer and journalist who wrote investigative articles on Chechnya. Markelov had been the attorney for the family of Elza Kungayeva, a young Chechen woman killed by Russian colonel Yuri Budanov, who was released from prison in mid-January, 15 months before his original sentence was to end. Markelov was murdered on 19 January 2009 in Moscow.

Markelov was a president of the Russian Rule of Law Institute. He represented Anna Politkovskaya who was gunned down in Moscow in 2006, Mikhail Beketov, the editor of a pro-opposition newspaper who was severely beaten in November 2008 and many Chechen civilians who were tortured. He also defended people who were victims of the Moscow theatre hostage crisis.

Markelov was shot to death on 19 January 2009 while leaving a news conference in Moscow less than half a mile from the Kremlin; he was 34. Anastasia Baburova, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta who tried to come to Markelov’s assistance, was also shot and killed in the attack.

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