Patriotism as a diagnosis


Moscow 2012: March in memory of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova. IMAGE/CC BY-NC 2.0 Vladimir Varfolomeev/Flickr

Nine years ago today, Russian activist lawyer Stanislav Markelov was shot dead in central Moscow. We republish the last article he wrote before his death.

January 2018 marks the ninth anniversary of the murder of Stanislav Markelov and activist journalist Anastasia Baburova. On 19 January 2009, as Markelov and Baburova walked through central Moscow, they were gunned down by Nikita Tikhonov, a Russian neo-Nazi.

This tragic murder sent shocks through human rights, media and activist communities in Russia, and later exposed the neo-Nazi terror cell run by Tikhonov and several others. As was revealed at trial, the group’s organiser Ilya Goryachev was using his connections to people inside Russia’s Presidential Administration and law enforcement to lobby for a new umbrella party that would preside over Russia neo-Nazis and extreme nationalists. Alexander Litoy writes about this trial (and how he wound up on one of Goryachev’s lists) in detail here.

Born in 1974, Markelov led an active life. He was involved in the Russian Social Democratic Party during the early 1990s, joined the Maximillian Voloshin brigade, a left-wing medics’ group, during the events of October 1993 in Moscow, travelled to Ingushetia with Memorial as a human rights observer, and helped lead the radical left Russian Student Union in 1994-1995. In the late 1990s, he was involved in the Defenders of the Rainbow anarchist ecological movement, as well as writing extensively about the authoritarian surge in Belarus.

In the early 2000s, Markelov represented the interests of striking workers at a Vyborg paper mill, people illegally evicted from Moscow dormitories and activists from an independent railway union. In 2002, he defended the interests of Elza Kungayeva, who was murdered by corporal Yuri Budanov.

In 2006, Markelov founded and headed the Institute of the Rule of Law, where he focused on defending activists, journalists and others in high-profile legal proceedings, such as Anna Politkovskaya and Mikhail Beketov, who led the campaign for the defence of Khimki forest outside of Moscow.

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