Very sad news out of Russia. Yesterday, a prominent human rights lawyer and a young journalist were gunned down in broad daylight in central Moscow.
Stanislav Markelov, 34, spent years risking his life to defend threatened journalists, anti-fascists and victims of human rights violations in Chechnya before he was finally killed by masked a gunman. Anastasia Baburova, a 25 year old trainee journalist at Novaya Gazeta (the same newspaper that Anna Politkovskaya wrote for), received a fatal shot to the head while trying to defend the injured Markelov.
Stanislas Markelov had recently received death threats. The prosecutor general Yuri Chayka said he was taking control of the investigation.
“We offer our condolences to the families of Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “Their deaths are a tragedy, resulting from the persistent hold of violence on Russian society but also the impunity that reigns in cases of murders of journalists and human rights activists.”
“We salute the courage of Markelov, who had defended many journalists including Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in October 2006, and Mikhaïl Beketov, brutally assaulted last November. Russia has lost a tenacious lawyer who did his utmost to defend the interests of families of victims of atrocities in Russian Caucasia”.
“Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of Anastasia Baburova, who made the choice to become a journalist and deal with sensitive issues, particularly ultra-nationalism. She was a brave young woman, which is clearly demonstrated by the fact that she was fatally injured while trying to stop the gunman” the organisation added.
Reading this, I was reminded of something that happened the other day. I asked Z to watch a video of a liberal female member of the Afghan parliament and tell me what she said, because there were no subtitles and I don’t speak Dari. When it was over, he turned to me and said, “She’s a brave person. She won’t live much longer, I’m sure of that.” The absolute certainty in his voice gave me chills.
Death stalks human rights defenders and dissident journalists all over the world, and robs us all of too many courageous voices against hate, oppression and war.
Rest in peace, Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova. May others find the strength to take up your fight and continue your work.
* lyrics from “Next Time Around” by Zo Tobi