Rally Held in Moscow in Memory of Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov

Vera Vasilieva, 20/01/11

Source: hro.org

· Right of Assembly · Human Rights Defenders · Moscow City & Moscow Region

On 19 January 2011, the second anniversary of the killing of Anastasia Baburova and Stanislav Markelov, a rally was held in Moscow in memory of the murdered lawyer and journalist.

The organizers of the action, which was attended by anti-fascists and human rights defenders, as well as public and political figures, chose not to use symbols associated with any political party. The participants included many well-known faces, such as the human rights defender Valery Borschchev, Republican Party leader Vladimir Ryzhkov, Memorial chair Oleg Orlov, executive director of the Movement For Human Rights Lev Ponomarev, director of the Sova Centre Aleksandr Verkhovsky, president of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights Yuri Dzhibladze, the Left Front movement coordinator Sergei Udal'tsov, executive secretary of the Public Committee for the Defence of Scientists Ernst Cherny, Russian Orthodox priest Gleb Yakunin, and others.

The event, combining the commemoration with an anti-fascist protest, started with a march along Tverskoi Boulevard. The participants carried portraits of Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova, as well as of anti-fascists who had become the victims of attacks. People chanted slogans such as “Nothing has been forgotten, nobody has been forgiven!”, “To remember means to fight!”, “Fascism shall not prevail!”

The march concluded with a rally in Novopushkinsky Square. Following a minute’s silence, a young woman and a young man, their faces covered by scarves and dark glasses (many anti-fascists have recently resorted to such precautions for security reasons) read an appeal by the organizers to those assembled.

"Our friends and fellow anti-fascists – lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova – were killed two years ago today. They were killed in Moscow, in broad daylight, not far from the Kremlin, by shots in the head. Members of nationalist organizations accused of the crime have been on trial since 11 January this year.... Can the public now feel reassured? No!” the proclamation read.

The speakers pointed out that dozens of less publicized killings motivated by ethnic hatred occur in the country. In 2010 alone, human rights organizations documented 38 killings.

“Usually it is Russian citizens of non-Slavic appearance, as well as immigrants from other countries, who are targeted by the Nazis.” But not they alone. Anti-fascist activists, representatives of various subcultures, and just “chance victims” were being attacked.

The protesters asserted that the only response to rising xenophobia was solidarity among all healthy civil society forces and movements. “We must consistently put forward solutions to those key social issues that cause interethnic hatred, and demand their implementation,” they declared.

The appeal’s authors regard Stanislav Markelov as an example worthy of emulation, someone “who put the principle of the supremacy of law into practice all over the country.” He was a lawyer “not afraid to stand up to Kadyrov and to represent the interests of the relatives of the victims of kidnappings. He was not afraid of doing everything he could to prevent the early release of the murderer and rapist Budanov.”

The rally participants also recalled that both Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova “took part in many protest actions aimed at resolving key social problems of the country.”

“In a decent society killings and Nazi propaganda are intolerable. We believe they are also intolerable for most of Russia's inhabitants. However, when the masses remain silent, it is easier for Nazi groups to act against the wishes of the majority. In this way silence amounts to tacit approval. However, we categorically disapprove of Nazi ideology and its practical implementation. Nazis must be pushed into a corner and isolated. Only a massive ‘No!’ can stop the Nazi terror,” the appeal stated.

The full text of this document has been published on the website of the Committee of 19 January.

Throughout the demonstration, anti-fascist posters were projected onto a giant screen erected in the square. After the petition was read out, a short film on Stanislav Markelov was shown. It included the following extract from a speech the lawyer gave at a rally on 30 November 2008.

"I am tired of coming across the names of my friends in crime reports. I am tired of opening criminal files featuring someone's membership of the anti-fascist movement as the first point in the indictment. And people are not just facing criminal charges for this. They are also detained and imprisoned. I am tired of reading crime reports and sifting through lists of people who have been killed. This is no longer a matter of work. This is a question of survival. We need protection from the Nazis. We need protection from the authorities linked to the Mafia. And even from the very law enforcement agencies who often simply act as their lackeys. We all need protection. I hope it will come,” Stanislav Markelov said.

A mere six weeks later he was murdered.

Following the rally in Pushkin Square the participants, chanting “Stas and Nastia – never forgotten!”, released dozens of white paper lanterns into the sky.

The march and the rally did not pass entirely without incident. 21 people were detained for disturbing the public peace and taken to police stations. According to Moscow city’s Police Department, one of those detained had set a flare alight and several others had come to the rally wearing masks. All those detained were later released.