war crimes in Ukraine

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Russian Penal Service refuses to reveal Yury Budanov’s whereabouts

29.03.2007    source:
It is unclear where ex-colonel Yury Budanov, serving a sentence for the murder of Elza Kungaeva, a young Chechen woman*, is at the present time, or whether in fact he is still imprisoned.

It is unclear where ex-colonel Yury Budanov, serving a sentence for the murder of Elza Kungaeva, a young Chechen woman*, is at the present time  This was reported on 28 March by the newspaper Novye Izvestia, whose journalists attempted to discover Budanov’s whereabouts but were unable to get such information out of the Russian Penal Service [FSIN] employees.

Budanov served two thirds of his sentence in penal colony No. 3 in the city of Dimitrovgrad in the Ulyanovsk region. In February 2007 the acting head of the FSIN Department for the Volga Federal area, stated that Budanov had been transferred to an open (settlement) colony [where prisoners are not held under lock and key, nor under guard]. However the next day, the Department refuted this, naming the information “inaccurate”. According to an employee of one of the  Dimitrovgrad colonies, Budanov has already been moved from Colony No. 3. “In Dimitrovgrad they can’t talk about anything else. You have the feeling that somebody is deliberately covering up Budanov’s traces”.

In Colony No. 3 itself, they refused to speak to the newspaper’s correspondent. “You’re through to the wrong place””, they told him by telephone.

The paper reports that there are only 2 colonies in the Ulyanovsk region – in the Zavolzhsky District of Ulyanovsk, and in the village of Yasashnaya Tashla. The Ulyanovsk open colony stated that Budanov had not come to them. “And it won’t happen! The material wasn’t sent to the court. Even if he’s taken to a settlement, he’ll still remain in Dimitrovgrad”, an employee of the colony said.

The Head of Colony No. 6 in Yasashnaya Tashla Oleg Goroshko would neither confirm, nor deny that Yury Budanov was in his colony. “That’s secret information”, he claimed.


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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