Russian nationalist jailed for double murder

Nikita Tikhonov sentenced to life for murder of human rights lawyer and journalist shot dead in Moscow in 2009.

    Markelov had represented the mother of an anti-fascist campaigner who he said was killed by neo-Nazis [EPA]

    A Moscow court has sentenced an ultra-nationalist to life in prison for the murder of a human rights lawyer and a journalist who were shot dead in broad daylight on a Moscow street in 2009.

    A jury found Nikita Tikhonov, 30, guilty last week of killing Stanislav Markelov, a lawyer who represented leading anti-fascist activists, and opposition newspaper reporter Anastasia Baburova.

    Markelov and Baburova were walking together after a news conference when they were shot at close range.

    The January 2009 shooting in an upmarket neighbourhood close to the Kremlin sparked a global outcry, deepening concerns that such attacks can be carried out with impunity.

    The court also sentenced Yevgeniya Khasis, who is in her mid-20s, to 18 years in jail on Thursday.

    She had been convicted of being an accessory to Markelov's murder. Prosecutors had asked for a life sentence for Tikhonov and 20 years for Khasis.

    Markelov's brother Mikhail expressed satisfaction with the sentences.

    "The punishment fits the crime which these comrades carried out," he said.

    Markelov had represented the mother of an anti-fascist campaigner who he said was killed by neo-Nazis.

    Prosecutors said Tikhonov and Khasis were members of an ultra-nationalist group and had been moved by "intolerance and ideological hatred" to kill Markelov, because he defended those "holding anti-fascist ideologies".

    Ultranationalist popularity

    Markelov had gained prominence when he opposed the early release of a former Russian tank commander imprisoned for the murder of an 18-year-old woman in Chechnya.

    Rights groups have accused Russian forces of abusing civilians during two wars against separatist fighters in the southern region in the 1990s.

    Baburova was one of more than 50 journalists killed since 1992 in Russia, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, which lists Russia as the eighth most dangerous country for journalists.

    Many of their killings have gone unsolved.

    Suspects charged in the 2004 murder of US journalist Paul Klebnikov and the 2006 killing of Anna Politkovskaya were acquitted in trials that embarrassed prosecutors.
     
    The killings by Tikhonov highlighted the threat from ultra-nationalist movements that have been gaining ground and boosting their membership numbers in recent years.

    Racial violence exploded in Moscow in December when about 7,000 football fans and nationalists chanting racist slogans demonstrated near Red Square and attacked passersby who appeared to be non-Slavic.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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