Open appeal from lawyers regarding the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov


We wish to express our gravest fears over the flagrant murder of our colleague Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova on 19 January 2009 in the centre of Moscow. It is clear that the killing was of a contract and political nature and linked with the professional activities of the lawyer.

The series of killings of lawyers, journalists and civic activists over recent times in the capital and regions of Russia arouse the deepest concern. Even greatest disquiet is felt over the consistent inability of the Russian law enforcement agencies to ensure swift uncovering, high-quality investigation and submission to the courts of similar criminal prosecutions often even with regard to those who carried out a crime, not to mention those who order and organize such blatant attacks.

The authorities are not capable of ensuring a proper level of security for the lawful public and professional activities of lawyers even in the capital of the Russian Federation.

The specific nature of our work lies in defending the interests of victims of crimes committed by those in official positions and other abuse by representatives of the authorities – police officers, officers of the Russian Army, staff of the State Narcotics Control Body, justice bodies, Security Service officers and penal system staff, as well as defending the victims of violent hate crimes.

We perceive the murder of lawyer Markelov as a real and immediate threat and challenge to the entire Russian legal community, particular that part which specializes in defending people from lawless impunity of enforcement officers and nationalist gangs running rampant in the country.

From now on this work is dangerous for the lives both of the lawyers themselves, and journalists working with them.

We demand that the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, the Head of the Investigative Committee attached to the Prosecutor’s Office and the Minister of Internal Affairs make sure that an effective investigation is carried out of this double murder and that the public are regularly informed of its progress. Otherwise in you the Russian Federation will be admitting before its own citizens and the international community its political defeat to organized crime and its inability to control it.

The appeal is signed by 20 lawyers from all over the Russian Federation, and is open for signatures here:

(the appeal is available in Russian, with the names of the lawyers and their positions at the bottom here:

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