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23 Jan, 2009 12:29

Murdered lawyer and journalist remembered

The funeral of a lawyer gunned down in broad daylight on a Moscow street has been held in the capital. A memorial service for the journalist killed in the same attack has also taken place.

Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were shot dead on Monday shortly after they left a press conference. Markelov had been briefing the media on the early release of a Russian colonel jailed for 10 years in 2003 for murdering a young Chechen woman.

It was one of several controversial cases taken on by Markelov.

He had defended the interests of the Cehchen woman's family in court, and had appealed against the colonel's early release.

A civil memorial service for Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova was also held in Moscow. She will be buried in her home city of Sevastopol in Ukraine.

On Thursday, a rally was held in the centre of the Russian capital to remember Markelov and Baburova. About 70 people gathered on Pushkinskaya Square, holding posters reading “Russia Without Violence!” “Two More Victims of Budanov Case”.

They were killed near Kropotkinskaya metro station in the centre of Moscow on January 19. Markelov died of wounds on the spot and 25-yearl-old journalism student Baburova died several hours later in hospital. She was working for for Novaya Gazeta.

Markelov, a well-known human rights activist and the director of the Institute of Supremacy of Law in Moscow, defended the rights of the Kungayev family, whose daughter Elza was killed by Colonel Yuri Budanov in Chechnya in 2000.

Budanov, recently released from prison, said he had nothing to do with the murder.

“That's a base provocation with which I have nothing to do. Someone's trying to drive a wedge between Russians and Chechens,” Budanov said in an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda paper.

“Nobody will give me back the years I spent in prison; it was the hardest penalty,” he added.

A criminal investigation into the murder of Markelov and Baburova is under way.