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Killing Justice in Russia

PRAGUE – The death of Eduard Chuvashov, a judge killed in cold blood on April 12 in Moscow, is another in a long and growing list of murders perpetrated on those in Russia who try to seek justice for the victims of crimes – an essential task for the future development of the Russian society.

Within the Russian judiciary, Chuvashov was one of the rare judges with the courage to rule against powerful local government officials as well as high-ranking officers of the interior ministry. Indeed, he dared to send a number of them to prison. Recently, Chuvashov defied personal threats made against him and sentenced members of a particularly nasty Moscow neo-Nazi group to prison.

The Western press has, up until now, often portrayed Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s term in office as a time of liberalization, a period when the Russian government is beginning to loosen its authoritarian grip on society. Some even suggest that, with Medvedev, a new era of perestroika is about to be launched.

But the pattern of assassination directed against Russian “troublemakers,” which started several years ago when human rights expert Nikolai Girenko and journalist Anna Politkovskaya were murdered, has not been effectively addressed. In fact, in 2009, Medvedev’s second year in office, a devastating series of such killings occurred.