Seemingly no early release for Yury Budanov
After a considerable period, as reported here, when Yury Budanovs whereabouts were unknown, another appeal for early release was announced today and then turned down by a court in the Ulyanovsk region. The court hearing apparently took place on the territory of Penal Colony No. 3 where the Russian reports said that Budanov has been held since 2004. After a previous application for early release was turned down in January 2007, in February it was reported, only to be denied almost immediately, that Budanov had been moved to an open (settlement) colony [where prisoners are not held under lock and key, nor under guard]. It was in February that there were disturbing reports that Budanov had “disappeared” somewhere between different penal colonies, with none prepared to say where he was being held.
Yury Budanov was the first high-ranking Russian officer to be charged with serious crimes over Chechnya. He was originally charged with raping and murdering an 18-year-old girl. Later the rape charge was dropped, probably because the body of his victim had been burned. Budanov claimed that he had thought the young woman was a sniper. She was not.
The first trial ended in Budanovs being released on the grounds of having been “temporarily insane” at the specific moment when he killed Elza Kungaeva. Not surprisingly the verdict was greeted with outrage, and eventually another judge, Vladimir Bukreyev sentenced him to 10 years.
There have repeatedly been calls from some circles within Russia for his release. He remains as of today the only former officer to have been convicted of war-related crimes in Chechnya.