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Russia’s Lawless Legality

MOSCOW – Colonel Yuri Budanov is a convicted rapist and murderer. After serving half his prison sentence for the rape and murder of an 18-year-old Chechen, Elsa Kungayeva, he was released last December.

Svetlana Bakhmina was a lawyer at Yukos, the oil company formerly run by Mikhail Khodorkovsky. In 2004, she was arrested and, in 2006, sentenced to six and a half years on embezzlement and tax fraud charges. Like Budanov, she applied for early release from prison in 2008. Her request was refused, as was her earlier plea in 2006 to suspend her sentence until her two small sons reached the age of 14 – a request she was entitled to make under Russian law.