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30 Jan, 2009 15:14

Why Medvedev’s reaction over lawyer & journalist murder comes late

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed his condolences over the deaths of a journalist and a lawyer who were shot to death in Moscow last week. He also explained why he had not responded earlier.

The Russian president was speaking to Dmitry Muratov, Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Novaya Gazeta’ newspaper where journalist Anastasia Baburova had worked. She was shot dead along with lawyer Stanislav Markelov in central Moscow on January 19.

According to Muratov, who was interviewed by Echo of Moscow radio station, Medvedev said he was not quick to express his opinion about the murder and condolences to the families of the victims so as not to influence the criminal investigation.

“He [Medvedev – RT] said tolerating it was very difficult, but he didn’t want to make any statements on the day it happened or the next day because, as a lawyer, he knew that any statement by a person in his position might influence the investigation,” said Muratov.

He added that he was going to relay Medvedev’s condolences to the families of the journalist and the lawyer.

Ex-Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev, who is one of the shareholders of ‘Novaya Gazeta,’ was also present at the meeting. He suggested that the leader of the state should have reacted to the tragedy on the same day, but Medvedev disagreed.

According to Muratov, Medvedev also said that one does not have to especially like the opposition ‘Novaya Gazeta’ newspaper, but it definitely deserves respect for criticizing Russian authorities.

Other subjects discussed at the meeting were the current state of civil society and the role of the press in shaping it, as well the problem of hate crimes and fascism in modern Russia.

Stanislav Markelov, was the lawyer for the Kungayev family, the relatives of a Chechen woman who was murdered by Russian army colonel Yury Budanov.

It was reported that neo-nationalists declared the day of the lawyer’s and journalist’s murder a holiday. According to comments on the Internet, some even wanted to go to the crime scene and drink champagne.

Muratov said President Medvedev realizes the threat coming from fascists and sees democracy as the only way to resist it.