Published on WSWS, by Vladimir Volkov, 23 January 2009.
On January 19, Stanislav Markelov was shot in the head and killed in central Moscow by a masked man using a silencer. The assassination took place in broad daylight not far from the Kremlin. The 34-year-old lawyer and human rights activist was president of the Institute for the Supremacy of Law.
Anastasia Baburova, a 25-year-old student in the journalism department at Moscow State University and correspondent for the liberal opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta (New Gazette), tried to shield Markelov from the killer but was also shot in the head. Later that evening, she died in the hospital.
The specific reason for the murder of Markelov and who ordered it have not yet been established. But it is clear that this savage and cold-blooded killing is bound up with efforts to eliminate those who, regardless of their views and political connections, have sought to shed light on the many murky aspects of the actions of the Russian authorities in the Caucasus and in Russia itself. Both victims of this assassination were open opponents of the Russian nationalists …
… Today’s Russian authorities openly preach Russian nationalism. An illustration of this is what Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at the beginning of March last year, soon after the election of the new president, Dmitry Medvedev, who had been handpicked by Putin. In describing the views of the newly elected president, Putin said that he is “no less a Russian nationalist, in the best sense of the word, than I am.”
One can anticipate that as the economic crisis deepens in Russia, the burden will fall on the broad layers of the working population and deepen the mood of social protest. Under these conditions, the Kremlin will encourage an atmosphere of nationalist hysteria in order to frighten and persecute people who oppose its policies. (full text).