The motivation behind the murder is still unknown. The 34 year old Markelov headed the "Institute for Legal Protection" and was known to be a great advocate of rights and much appreciated for his morality. He took on dangerous cases; those his colleagues avoided for fear of their lives. He defended people of different nationalities who were subject to violence at the hands of Russian fascists, police as well as the military. On one of the many websites belonging to Russian fascist groups, Markelov was threatened the same destiny as that of rights advocate Girenko (in 2004 the anti-fascist Girenko was shot at his doorstep.)
Five years ago Makelov was assaulted by skinheads in the Moscow underground – this was in connection with famous lawsuit against Colonel Budanov. During the war in Chechnya, Budanov abducted and raped an 18 year old Chechen girl Elsa Kungajeva.
While the case proceeded, the building came to be encircled by fascists, insisting that Budanov was a Russian patriot and should be freed. The aggression from the Russian Nazis was so immense that the victim's parents were forced to flee Russia. They have now found residence in Norway. Markelov, who was acting as the family's counselor, also received anonymous threats.
Thanks to Markelov's efforts, Budanov was found guilty of murder and abusing his position as an officer. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. However, due to good conduct he has been freed – way before his time. Markelov protested against this injustice and held a press conference on January 19; where he demanded lawsuits against certain civil servants. As the lawyer stepped out on the street after meeting with the press he was shot in the back of the head by a masked man.
The journalist, Anastasia Baburova, went alongside him. According to unconfirmed sources, she tried to prevent the murder. She was also shot in the head. We can only imagine the sorrow of the parents who lost their only daughter.
The 25 year old Anastasia Baburova was in her final year at the Institute for Journalism at the University of Moscow, and wrote on a freelance basis for the opposition paper “Novaja Gazeta.” She covered the case against Budanov and Russian fascists. She also published articles supporting youngsters who oppose the Kremlin, and participated herself in demonstrations in Moscow.
Anastasia Baburova is the fifth journalist from “Novaja Gazeta” to be killed. Anna Politkovskaya had also worked for this gazette.
20 year old Anton Stradymov was also found dead at the entrace of an underground station in Moscow. His face was like a bloody pudding and it was difficult to identify him (were it not for his ID and money that had remained untouched.) Stradymov was an active member of the youth movement "The March of Disagreement", while also being a member of a banned national-Bolshevik party.
There have been a handful of demonstrations in Moscow and a few in other big cities, organized by anarchists and anti-fascists. They carry placards announcing "Fascists kill – the government covers!" and “For the government fascism is a prank!” Special Forces, OMON, attacked the demonstrators with batons and arrested them. The angry youngsters vandalized windows and lights. At the police station, the demonstrators were reminded of Anton Stradymov and the fate he suffered: if they did not want to die like him, they had best put an end to their demonstrations.
Russian television only showed a brief summary of the murder of Markelov and Baburova – as if they had been victims of an ordinary traffic accident. Not a single government official has offered condolences – neither President Medvedev nor Prime Minister Putin, nor any other lower down the official rung, has said a word. For them such murders assume the lowly status of run-of-the-mill criminal activity in a criminal country. It is they who have transformed Russia into a behemoth crime-camp – a place ravaged by corruption and lawlessness. They are the guilty.