war crimes in Ukraine

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Russian Judge accused of passing Anna Politkovskaya secret material about Yury Budanov

14.12.2006    source:
Vladimir Bukreyev’s lawyers and human rights activists are in no doubt that the “case of the judge” is linked with his having sentenced Colonel Budanov in 2003 to ten years imprisonment for murdering an 18-year-old Chechen Elza Kungaeva

According to the newspaper “Novye izvestiya”, former First Deputy Head of the Northern Caucuses Military District Court Vladimir Bukreyev may be formally charged with having passed on secret information about Colonel Budanov to journalist Anna Politikovskaya.

Vladimir Bukreyev’s lawyers and human rights activists are in no doubt that the “case of the judge” is linked with his having sentenced Colonel Budanov in 2003 to ten years imprisonment  and the new charges which are looming are specifically over the conviction of Budanov.

The retired judge’s Moscow lawyer Andrei Leshchykov reports that a new charge may soon be presented, alleging that at one stage the Judge passed on classified material on the Yury Budanov case to Anna Politkovskaya who subsequently used it in one of her books. This was confirmed by a source in the Central Military Prosecutor’s Office.

At the same time the ex-judge’s Rostov lawyer Yelena Orlyankina asserts that “Bukreyev did indeed meet with Politikovskaya several times, however he did not pass on any secret documents, and the scandalous leak to Novaya Gazeta of Colonel Budanov’s criminal case was actually from the prosecutor’s office.”

A criminal investigation against Bukreyev was launched in 2004 when he retired. The investigators claim that Bukreyev took money from a former head of the catering department of the Northern Caucuses Military District, Sergei Serkin for “help” in reviewing his criminal case at appeal level.

The Bukreyev case is being run by the Central Military Prosecutor’s Office. The investigators’ version is that Bukreyev received 40 thousand dollars and his middleman, former deputy prosecutor of the military district Shareef Akhmedov another 10 thousand dollars from Serkin for the promise to make sure he wasn’t imprisoned. According to the investigators, Bukreyev and Akhmedov did not in fact intend to do anything for Serkin, and they are therefore accused of swindling, and not of receiving a bribe.

Background note

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 Budanov’s 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.

[translator’s note ]

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