war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

Stanislav Markelov in his own words

The following two addresses given by lawyer and human rights defender Stanislav Markelov include the words spoken at the press conference just before he was gunned down

The following words were spoken by Stanislav Markelov in November after a brutal attack on the journalist and civic activist Mikhail Beketov. Mr Beketov remains dangerously ill and has not come out of a coma (more information at and at the link below that article).

I’m in a strange position. I end up the lawyer for all those who’ve got into these terrible situations. And I’m tired.

I’m tired of meeting the people I know in crime chronicles. I’m tired because a week before what happened (the attack on journalist Mikhail Beketov – translator), I sat with Mikhail Beketov in his home. And he complained that he was one against them all. And that proved to be true.

I’m tired of opening criminal files and reading in the first point of the charges that the person is a member of the Antifa [anti-fascist] movement. And they don’t just accuse people for that, they arrest and imprison them, like Olesinov now.

I’m tired of reading crime chronicles and catching lists of those murdered. Like recently about Filatov who was killed right in the entrance of his apartment block. This isn’t work anymore. It’s a question of survival. If Mikhail Beketov now needs blood, we all need protection. We need protection from Nazis. We need protection from the Mafiosi authorities. Even from those same law enforcement agencies who often simply serve them. We all need protection.

And we all understand very well that beside us, there’s nobody who’ll give us that protection. Not God, or the Tsar, or the law. Nobody by now. Only we ourselves. And it’s then when we give each other a shoulder to lean on, when we can protect each other, only then will we break through. I hope that will happen. Otherwise we;ve gathered here for nothing.

Stanislav Markelov, speaking at a press conference on 19 January, shortly before he was murdered

The title of the press conference was “Budanov’s unlawful release from the penal colony, ignoring of the court, and the direct benefit for the fighters. What do we do next?” (see below for information and references about the Budanov case)

Perhaps nobody, including Budanov, can answer the question in the title of today’s press conference. On 24 December a decision was taken to grant him early release on the basis of false information presented by the prosecutor’s office claiming that it was impossible to find victims in the Budanov case, that Budanov himself did not pose a danger to society. I would note that despite the fact that the Kungaev family are now in Norway, they were forced to turn to the police before of threats they received, and one of their daughters is under personal protection which the law enforcement agencies do not provide without good grounds. I can talk about this now quite freely, having proof that the prosecutor’s office is lying. If this wasn’t the case, they would have already taken me to court.

If the victims’ party did not have the right to appeal against the court ruling, then Budanov would have been released back on 3 January. Since he wasn’t released, that means that at that point the court decided that the victims’ side had the right to appeal. In the Criminal Procedure Code it says clearly that any parties to proceedings have the right to appeal against a court ruling. When one person several times in a day changes his point of view, the question arises of whether he’s mentally fit. In the given case the court is changing its mind several times a day.

The norms of the law weren’t anywhere near. The Dmitrovhradsky court answered my questions about Budanov’s release by fax. I don’t understand at all. Since when was official correspondence conducted by fax? You get the impression they’ve set up some kind of intimate correspondence with me. And who is that good for? Strange as it may sound, it’s not good for Budanov.. He could have held on just a bit and legally been freed. It would have been much better for him. It’s bad for the court as well, to be set up like that. If we speak about the political forces, I’m convinced that for various groups supporting Budanov, it was also bad. They need Budanov as a hero, not as a repentant criminal. It’s bad also for the prosecutor’s office which is playing dumb. Have you heard even one statement from them? Even a formal one? Or fobbing off lies? You have the feeling that they themselves are pushing public opinion to the thought that it was all to order.

You shouldn’t forget when and in what circumstances the story began. Eight years ago people in Chechnya didn’t turn to the court for justice, they went to the forest. Then the situation began gradually changing a bit. How much effort was taken, how much work so that people would turn not to the separatists, but to the courts. Therefore, as far as the Budanov case was concerned, it would be hard to think of a more blatant demonstration of the fact that it was a waste of time. This release is convenient for those who run around the mountains since there is no lawful ruling on Budanov’s release. If they had wanted to observe the minimum of lawfulness, they would have waiting for the ruling from the Ulyanovsk court and more or less legally released him.

Who is that good for? Those who it suits to not have Russian legal institutions established in the Caucuses.

Since the law enforcement agencies are doing nothing, I am forced to take upon myself their functions. The decision to refuse permission to lodge an appeal against the release of Budanov will be appealed because I am not interested in the opinion of some Judge Dubov, I am interested in the opinion of the President of the Supreme Court Lebedev.

Budanov has crimes to his name. Further investigation is at present underway. When we began the case against Budanov, we didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin, and concentrated on the most provable facts, and decided to seek charges over one episode. These facts were generally known, they couldn’t be explained away as being in wartime, they were facts about how Budanov personally behaved with peaceful civilians who came to him without arms. The prosecutor’s office was silent about this for nine years. I will be demanding that the material is looked at.

Now the question is with the investigators so that the further investigation turns into a criminal investigation. The period where the crimes are punishable is still valid, this being 15 years. How can a person with such unanswered issues be safe for the public? The prosecutor’s office is obliged to react to unlawful behaviour. If I was lying, they would have already taken me to court. At the present time, I intend to, firstly, make an official complaint against the letter signed by Judge Dubov. When I learned about Budanov’s release, I immediately stated that as soon as it became know who had given the order to let him out, we would take that person to court - this is a criminal offence since the decision was unlawful. They made this person some judge Dubov from the Dmitrovhradsky City Court.

Secondly, I intend to approach the department of the Prosecutor General for the North Caucuses asking them to take under their control a check of the crimes committed by Budanov, and to initiate a criminal investigation. Thirdly, by 29 January I expect an answer from the President of the Supreme Court Lebedev.

I would not want to bring this case out of the internal Russian level. I am trying to resolve these issues within the country. However if the prosecutor’s office and court go into retreat, if they all hide their heads in the sand and act like ostriches, I will be forced to take this matter to an international court.

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.  and links at the bottom of that page.

More information generally from this New Year can be found at: (A Squalid year for Russian justice)

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