Russia: Meeting in Memory of Markelov and Barburova – Riot police, gas and detentions
On Tuesday evening, 19 January 2010, one year since human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Barburova were gunned down in the centre of Moscow, hundreds of people gathered in their memory. The meeting had been announced in advance, and after initial attempts to ban it, was permitted. Various estimates put the number present at between 600 and 1,000.
2 pickets were planned – at Petrovsky Boulevard and then at Chystoprudny Boulevard. There were large numbers of riot police surrounding both.
A rally was planned for 20.00 at Chystye prudy (in the centre of Moscow, very close to the place of the killing) following a procession in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Barburova. The start was delayed because the police placed only two metal detectors around the cordoned area for a crowd of many hundreds.
A group of anti-fascists tried to break through the cordon, but got no more than 100 metres down Chystoprudny Boulevard. According to one version of the following events, it was the police who provoked a run in, either by detaining somebody, or taking a leaflet off a person addressing people.
The BBC Russian Service quotes Oleg Orlov, Head of Memorial, as saying that it was the police who provoked the conflict.
Chaos followed: police knocked down opposition activists and bundled them into buses. They also used pepper gas. According to a correspondent from NEWSru.com opposition activists threw snowballs at the riot police. The head of the information and public relations service of the Moscow Police, Victor Biryukov, however, claims that it was anti-fascists who used gas canisters for which four were detained.
40 people have been detained, and according to unconfirmed information, are being taken to the “Tverkskaya” Police Station.
However, the leader of “For Human Rights” Lev Ponomarev was about to agree with the head of the Moscow Riot Police General Kozlov that if the participants in the action dispersed, those detained on
Chystoprudny Boulevard would be released. After that the participants, mainly young people, did indeed start dispersing.
The participants held banners reading: “We’ll stop the Nazi terror”; “Russians against fascism”; “They are shaming our hero-city” and chanted: “The authorities are providing cover, the fascists are killing!”
The meeting was attended by a number of members of political movements and human rights organizations. They had all, as per prior agreement, come without any political flags or symbols.
On 19 January 2009 Stanislav Markelov was gunned down in the middle of Moscow. Anastasia Barburova, who was returning with him from a press conference about the release of Yury Budanov, ex-army colonel and murderer of a Chechen young woman, was also shot and died that evening of her wounds. Stanislav had two young children, Nastya, who was from Sevastopol, was 25 and still finishing her journalist studies. Please read the letter from her parents at http://www.khpg.org.ua/en/index.php?id=1263852665 (in Russian at http://www.novayagazeta.ru/data/2010/004/02.html
At the beginning of November two Russian nationalists were arrested and charged with their murder.