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Larisa Yudina

The Yudina Case

Her Killers have been Convicted, but Questions Remain.


December 6, 1999

The Supreme Court of Kalmykia sentenced the killers of editor-in-chief of the newspaper Sovetskaya Kalmykiya segodnya (Soviet Kalmykia Today) Larisa Yudina on November 29 in Elista.

Yudina was killed in the summer of last year. The majority of the mass media connected the crime with president of Kalmykia Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. Soviet Kalmykia Today criticized him sharply and frequently. An investigation revealed that she was being threatened and that efforts were being made to bribe her. The journalist was lured into a deadly trap by an offer of documents testifying to the embezzlement of budgetary funds by the presidential administration. Yudina entered an apartment, where she was knifed to death. Her body was then thrown into a river. The crime was committed by former assistants to Ilyumzhinov Sergei Vaskin and Vladimir Shanukov, who had previously been convicted of the murders of two people in excess of the need for self-defense and of resisting arrest. The criminals were captured within days of the murder.

The court sentenced Vaskin and Shanukov to 21 years in prison each. Andrei Lipin received six years' imprisonment for harboring the criminals. Tyurbyu Baskhojiev, who acted as an intermediary, was not held criminally accountable. The court explained that its leniency toward Baskhojiev was due to the fact that he made a full confession and aided in the investigation.

The defendants' lawyers stated their intention of appealing the sentence to the Supreme Court of Russia. In their opinion, there were procedural violations in the investigation, in particular, the participation of the state accuser in the investigation.

The prosecution was also dissatisfied with the sentences. Gennady Yudin, the husband of the deceased, said that the convicts were acting on orders and that the instigators of the murder remain in the shadows. Yabloko leader Grigory Yavlinsky made a similar statement (Yudina was an activist in that organization) and promised to take the matter of the punishment of the organizers of the crime to the Supreme Court of Russia as well.