Remembering Stas Markelov and Nastya Baburova.


Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov

This coming January 19th will mark the fifth anniversary of the murder by Russian Neo-Nazis of two anti- one a lawyer, Stanislav (Stas) Markelov and the other a journalist, Anastasia (Nastya) Baburova. The murder took place in the centre of Moscow and yet, in spite of the prominence of Markelov in many important court cases in the past decade and in spite of the fact that Baburova worked for the well-known opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta – which also included the prominent journalist Anna Politkovskaya (many of the human rights she denounced in her columns had been cases taken on by Stanislav Markelov)- their names have far too long ignored both in Russia and elsewhere. Attempts to gather in their memory in Moscow are sometimes permitted, sometimes broken up by police (as was the case in January 2010). This Sunday a book presentation of a volume of Stas Markelov’s articles and of memories of him and Nastya was held in the Dostoyevksy Library in the central Chistye Prudi district of Moscow to remind people of these figures. The book entitled Никто кроме Меня (No one apart from me) deserves a wider public, both a national and an international one given the significance of the figure and work of of Stas Markelov throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the twentieth century as well as Nastya’s tragically short career in journalism and activism and the immense generosity of her person- one slogan of hers resounds as a political slogan more important than ever in current times of anti-immigration hysteria Мое Отечество — все человечество (My country is the whole of humanity).

Here is a short biography of Stas Markelov’s taken from the book:

Born on the 20th May, 1974, he developed an interest in history, social and political issues and was influenced by Hippy ideas in his adolescent years lived out in the era of perestroika. From 1991-1996 he studied at the Moscow State Legal Academy, already at that time becoming an active member and helping to found the Russian Social Democratic Party. He identified himself with its Left faction and took an active part in internal discussions in the Party.

A book of articles by Stas Markelov and memories of him and Nastya Babrurova by people close to him.

The tragic events of October 1993 in Moscow (with the clash of two powers – Presidential and Parliamentary – leading to a mini civil war in the Russian capital) found Stas playing an active part in the Maximilian Voloshin Sanitary Brigade founded by Socialists and Anarchists with the intention of helping victims of both sides in the clashes (members of this brigades risked their own skins in order to save people injured in the gunfire and the beatings).

In 1994 he travelled to Ingushetia as an observer for the Human Rights Organization ‘Memorial’ to study the human rights situation of people suffering during the Osetian-Ingushetian conflict.

In 1994-95 Stanislav was one of the leaders of the Radical Left Student Union “Student Defence”, creating an organisation at his own place of study. He was one of the organizers of a one of the largest student demonstrations in Post-Soviet history on 12th April 1995 and which ended with clashes with the police and mass arrest. He himself was beaten during the crackdown.

Between 1992 and 1995, Stanislav Markelov work as a correspondent for the “Bulletin of the Left InformCentre” and wrote many notes on a large number of issues on social life: the situation in the Social Democratic Party, and in the student and anti-military movement. In the mid 1990s he actively participated in meetings and discussions of the Left Historical Club at ‘Memorial’- a community of historians with Socialist and Anarchist convictions.

In 1996 after finishing his studies along with a group of anarchist friends he worked trying to restore Bakunin’s estate. He will work here again later in 2001 and in 2007 will take part in the Pryamukhinsky Readings where he will give a talk in memory of his comrade, the Irkutsk anarchist Igor’ Podshivalov.

From 1996 he will regularly travel to Belarussia and work with the Belarussia opposition and write articles on the situation in the Republic becoming a lawyer in the case of the brutal crackdown of meetings in Minsk and in 2001 will be a social observer in the elections for the President of Belarus. In the summer of 1998 he was one of the initiators and participants of an anti-nuclear project and a marsh throughout Belarussia against the building of a nuclear power plant in Belarussia.

In 1997 he will become acquainted with a student journalist, Galina Goga, who a few years later will become his wife. They will have two sons- a son Lev and a daughter Ksenia.

Demonstrator in memory of Stas and Nastya holds up portrait of Nastya Baburova .

In the middle of the 1990s Stanislav will take an active part in the activity of Radical Anarcho-Ecological movement “Defenders of the Rainbow”. In 1996 he will take part in an ecological lager which protested against the building a nuclear power plant and in 2008 he will help another ecological lager as its lawyer.

In 1997 Stanislav Markelov will become a lawyer and will be registered in a variety of national and international lawyers organizations and will become involved in a large number of cases which received public interest.

From January 2004 he became an assistant to the opposition deputy, Oleg Shein.

From 2006 he founded and headed the Institute of the Rule of Law. Special attention in the work of the Institute, uniting a whole group of lawyers, was given to its activity in crisis regions of the Russian regions (North Сaucasus, Kalmikia, Baskiria etc) and in the conduct of trials of social importance and the most significant trials for the defence of citizens rights. Often Stas Markelov worked with independent journalists and gave regular legal support for Novaya Gazeta. He was the lawyer for a number of journalists including Novaya’s Anna Politkovskaya (murdered on October 7th 2006), the director of The Truth of Khimki, who led the campaign for the defence of Khimki Forest and was charged with libel against the head of the local administration (Beketov was later badly beaten and would die a year and a half later of injuries sustained during the beaten). The lawyers of his group actively worked in cases linked to the Caucasus and worked alongside other human rights organizations including the Moscow Helsinki Group as well as Memorial.

Stas Markelov also played an active part in conferences, round tables and gave many interviews and comments on many social and political issues. He participated in many forums and meetings. For example, he played an active part in the Fifth Siberian Social Forum in Irkutsk and in Autumn of 2008 participated in the European Social Forum in lamo (Sweden). On November 30th he gave one of his most well known speeches at a meeting in Moscow.

Many times Stas Markelov went to the Northen Caucasus as a lawyer and human rights activist.

The main spheres of social and professional interest for him were: the situation in Chechnya, in Belarussia, the history of the Socialist movement, anti-militarism and pacifism, the workers’ movement. Communitarianism, ecology, left terrorism, the excess of police force, anti-fascism, social initiatives, the persecution of journalists.
Stas Markelov first became well known in the Russian media in 1997 when he defended Andrey Sokolov and other members of the underground group “Revolutionary Army Council” who were the accused in the case of an explosion of a memorial plaque of the tsarist royal family at Vagankovsky cemetry, an attempt to cause an explosion at the statue of Peter the First in Moscow and a number of other activities. Markelov managed to get the accusation of terrorism withdrawn although the defendants were condemned on lesser charges. In 1998 he defended Larisa Shchiptsova and other anarchists accused of planning an attempt on the life of the Governor of the Krasnodar Region. In 1998-1999 he was the lawyer for a groups of anarchists and communists accused of a number of symbolic explosions against the offices of the FSB in Lubianka, although under pressure from the FSB who managed to change his status to that of witness so that he was excluded from the trial.

Russian antifa march in memory of Stas Markelov and Nastya Baburova with the slogan: Fascists Kill, The Authorities Cover Up for them.

In 2001 the lawyer Markelov represented the interests of workers of a Vyborg pulp and paper mill who had occupied their factory while in conflict with new owners of the enterprise. More than once he provided legal support to people illegally evicted from Moscow dormitories, defended activists of an independent railway union from mass dismissal as well as ticket collectors sacked from Russian railways for revealing financial abuse in the company.

In May 2002 he defended the interests of Elza Kungaeva, murdered in Chechnya on March 26th 2000 by the corporal Yuri Budanov (in 2003 Budanov was condemned to 10 years imprisonment in a maximum security prison). In 2002-2003 Stanislav took part in the freeing of Yakha Neserkhoeva –a victim of the Nord-Est terror act who had been accused of collaboration with the terrorists. He also supplied his support as a lawyer to relatives of the dead hostages in other court cases.

In 2003 he defended Zaur Mysikhanov who after refusing to serve in the Chechen militsia was sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.

Stanislav Markelov defended many ‘refuseniks’ (who evaded drafting into their militiary service) as well as the head of the Vladimir Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, Liudmila Yarlina, accused of collusion in draft evasion (she was sentenced in December 2004 to a suspended sentence of two years’ imprisonment).

In 2004 Stanislav Markelov was brutally attacked in a wagon of the Moscow metro. Documents and other valuable items were taken from Stas Markelov who lost consciousness. This attack was not properly investigated in spite of Markelov’s appeal to the Ministry of Interior and the Public Prosecutors.

In 2005 Stanislav represented the interests of the victims on the “Cadet” case- a Khanti-Mansiisk policeman Sergei Lapin who took part in the torture and disappearance of a person was eventually sentenced to 11 years for the murder. Stanislav also defended Magomedsalekha Masaeva, managing to institute proceedings for the fact of his kidnapping carried out by the Chechen authorities, but on August 8th 2008 he Masaeva was once again taken hostage and probably murdered.

In 2005 Markelov worked as a lawyer for the victims of a case in which during a “general prophylactic operation” in the town of Blagoveshchensk (Bashkiria) in December 2004 several hundred people were arrested and cruelly beaten.
In the course of the verification of these facts several heads of the security organs of Bashkiria were fired and a number of police received sentence from suspended sentences to four years imprisonment.

In 2006-2007 Stanislav defended the interests of friends and relatives of the anti-fascist Alexander Riukhin, killed by Nazis in Moscow, managing to make sure that they were not sentenced for ‘hooliganism’ but for murder with aggravating circumstances- nationalist motives. He also managed to secure that other accused persons were arrested and charged.

In 2008 Stanislav Markelov was the defender of one of the leaders of the antifa movement Alexei Oleynikov, accused in a framed case of hooliganism (a more serious charge than in other countries).Stanislav didn’t manage to follow the case to the end.

In the spring to the autumn of 2008 Stanslav represented the interests of young people beaten by police personnel from ‘Sokolniki’ district in Moscow (the campaign against arbitrary police violence received wide publicity and led to a number of meetings, the closure of the central Tverskaya Street etc).

These are only some of the trials that Stanislav Markelov took part in and only some of the more significant and exemplary actions of his engagement in social and political issues.

In December of 2008 after the war criminal Yuri Budanov was given an immediate suspended sentence on appeal, Markelov appealed against this decision. His appeal was unsuccessful and Budanov was freed. On January 19th 2009 the lawyer held a press conference in the Independent Press Centre on Prechistenka street. Around 3pm when Stanislav Markelov along with the antifascist, anarchist and Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova were walking to the metro station, his murdered came towards him and shot him in the head with a silencer. Stanislav Markelov died immediately. The fatally injured Anastasia Baburova died the same day in hospital.

Stanislav Yurevich Markelov is buried in Ostankinsky Ceremony in Moscow.

Their photos in a meeting to mark their memory

It was not possible to detain the murderer on the spot but he was later caught after an independent investigation carried out by Stanislav Markelov’s brother and Nikita Tikhonov was sentenced along with his assistant, Evgeniya Khasis.

About afoniya

I am a translator, language teacher, independent film scholar who is interested in many aspects of culture. I have my own blog on Russian and Soviet cinema at and I have also written for journals such as Film Philosophy and Bright Lights as well as Ribbed magazine. Outside of film my interest runs to language, politics, literature and my world is centred around the Meditteranean, Russia, Southern Ukraine as well as the UK.

2 responses »

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