Judge gunned down


Russia is not the most peaceful place on earth. Yet, the murder of a judge in the centre of Moscow is too much even according to Russia's tattered safety standards.

Though Eduard Chuvashov was involved in many notable cases (including the arrest of Alexander Bulbov, Russia's Drugs Control Agency general) the most likely reason for the killing is revenge by nationalist groups.

Mr Chuvashev was shot in the stairwell outside his second-floor apartment as he was leaving for work. It appears to have been a contract murder: two shot wounds were made in the chest, the third - to make sure the job was done properly - in the head.

The judge became a conspicuous figure after he had handled several high-profile cases involving racist killings and, above all, for the outrageous remark he made in the heat of a debate: ‘Russians themselves have such a mindset that there are times when they deserve to be hanged or murdered’.

These comments went online and the judge became a figure of hate for skinheads. He was labelled ‘the judge who wanted to kill Russians’.

In February, the judge presided over the trial of a neo-Nazi group ‘White Wolves’ who were charged with a series of gruesome murders of migrant workers, mostly from Central Asia and Caucasus. The victims were bludgeoned to death; the killings were recorded and posted online.

Judge Chuvashov found the gang members guilty and sentenced them to up to 23 years in prison. Just a week before his murder he jailed another three members of a skinhead group for racial killings.

In June 2004 Professor Nickolay Girenko was killed by a member of a nationalist group for acting as an expert in cases involving racist killings. Last January Stanislav Markelov, a civil rights lawyer, was shot dead in broad daylight on a street in central Moscow. Two members of an ultra-nationalist group have been charged with the murder.

It is striking that the killings did not make practical sense. Justice Chuvashov could not significantly alter the defendants’ fate: before he had become involved, the case by and large had already been considered by another judge. Similarly, there was little Nickolay Girenko, a St.Petersburg professor of Ethnology, or advocate Stanislav Markelov could do to stop the racists from being prosecuted.

It seems that the Russian skinheads have come to the conclusion that attacks on migrant workers do not provide sufficient resonance in society. They have moved on to political assassinations. They want to declare themselves as a political force.


April 12, 2010
photo: laurent hamels - Fotolia.com