Lawyer and human rights defender Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were murdered six months ago - on 19 January 2009 - in the centre of Moscow by an unknown man.
Stanislav Markelov was shot dead at about 2pm after attending a press conference at which he had discussed plans to appeal against the early release of a Russian former colonel who was imprisoned for the murder of a Chechen girl.
Anastasia Baburova, a journalist from the newspaper Novaya Gazeta who was accompanying Stanislav Markelov, was seriously injured when she tried to stop the killer. She died later that day in hospital, without regaining consciousness.
Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova's killings are being investigated by the Main investigative Department of the Investigative Committee at Prosecutor General’s office.
The following is a letter from the parents of Anastasia Baburova to Amnesty International...
We want to thank Amnesty International activists for the attention and concern you have shown towards Stanislav Yurevich Markelov and our dear and beloved daughter Nastenka [Anastasia] Baburova.
We hope that the international community’s demands made of the President and government of Russia will have a positive influence on the course of the investigation and on bringing to justice the killer and those who ordered the killing. It is wrong to be indifferent and to forgive any crime, and even more so when people are killed. No one has the right to take a human life.
The work that the lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova were doing was connected with protecting people, nature, and our environment from crude interference and annihilation. They loved Russia and fought for its image. Nastia was deeply offended by the debasement of human dignity:
"It is hard to look in the eye a Korean student, who has just been hit on the temple by two young yobs as they jump off a moving tram and run away. They jumped out, gave a Nazi salute towards the tram and ran off. They clearly copied this method from subway thieves"
19 November 2007
And again: "I couldn’t sleep; I left home at seven in the morning, lying on the ground I saw a murder victim"
9 August 2008
We think that these lines are hard for any reasonable person to read. Like all parents we tried to shield our daughter from any harm. But she noticed it all the same, and tried her best to protest against it.
Nastenka was someone who expected a lot of herself: responsible, honest, kind, beautiful inside and out. She was true to her friends, and always ready to sacrifice her own interests for the sake of friendship. Our daughter was equally as unselfish as Stanislav Markelov, who helped everyone without recompense and did not profit from the misfortune of others.
Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were highly educated people. Stanislav gave such wonderful lectures on the history of the Russian state! People listened to those lectures with such interest and amazement!
Anastasia was fluent in English, French and Ukrainian, graduated from high school with the highest possible grades, played competitive chess at a senior level, was competent at computer programming, practised yoga and martial arts, and was due to graduate from the journalism faculty of Moscow State University. She was enthusiastic about making a parachute jump and going underground exploring with the Sevastopol diggers. And still she protected us, her parents, from any anxiety.
The eminent Ukrainian writer, Nicolai Ostrovsky, once said: "A person is only given one life, and one should live it in such a way that one will not agonize over years lived aimlessly, so that there will be no burning shame about a mean and insignificant past, and that, on dying, one will be able to say: all my life and all my efforts were given to the struggle to free humanity."
We believe that Stas and Nastia were guided by these words in their lives. Our daughter wrote to us saying that her view of the world was shaped while she was still at school: "Just remember the books I used to read then!"
She was proud of her professional activity, and wrote to us: "I really want you, my parents, to know about what I am doing!"
And we read her articles about economics in "Izvestia" but we didn’t know anything about her work for "Novaya Gazeta".
How hardened and certain of his impunity must the killer be, if he calmly, in full view of many people, could shoot Stanislav and our daughter? Shoot them and just as calmly leave the scene of the crime. And Stanislav, and Nastia, who was still alive, lay on the snow in pools of blood. And not one of the passers-by came to their aid, nobody helped to stop the killer.
This is why we believe it is important to remind the Russian leadership about the demands to find and punish the killer and those who ordered this crime.
With gratitude, Eduard Fyodorovich Baburov and Larisa Ivanovna Baburova.