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Prominent human rights lawyer murdered in Moscow

A prominent human rights lawyer was shot dead in the centre of Moscow on Monday. Stanislav Markelov had been preparing to appeal against the early release of a Russian former colonel sentenced for the murder of a Chechen girl. A journalist from the newspaper Novaya Gazeta has died from wounds sustained in the same attack. Amnesty International, who worked with Stanislav Markelov on several cases, strongly condemned the murder. "Stanislav Markelov is yet another victim – very possibly murdered for his professional and courageous work to defend human rights," said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International. Amnesty International expressed sympathy for the family of Stanislav Markelov and urged the Russian authorities to investigate the murder promptly, fully and objectively. "Stanislav Markelov’s murder is a despicable crime. The Russian authorities must take decisive steps to show that such crimes will not be tolerated. Silencing those who defend human rights and work to uphold the rule of law is absolutely unacceptable," Nicola Duckworth said. Among high profile cases he worked on, Stanislav Markelov was the lawyer of the family of Chechen girl Kheda Kungaeva, who was abducted, raped and strangled to death in March 2000. Colonel Yuri Budanov was sentenced for the murder. He was released early on 15 January 2009 despite the appeal filed by Stanislav Markelov. Over the last week, Stanislav Markelov had received numerous death threats for his work on behalf of the family of Kheda Kungaeva.    Stanislav Markelov was also working on behalf of anti-fascists who had become victims of hate crime In 2004, Amnesty International campaigned on Stanislav Markelov's behalf after he had been attacked, beaten and had documents stolen relating to his work on behalf of the family of Zelimkhan Murdalov.  Zelimkhan was a young Chechen man who was subjected to torture and enforced disappearance by Russian law enforcement official Sergei Lapin.