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Murder of journalist Larissa Yudina in Kalmykia: four years later…

Press realease

June 7 is a tragic date in the history of Russian journalism. Four years ago on this day Larissa Yudina, Editor-in-Chief of the "Soviet Kalmykia Today" newspaper, member of the Kalmyk regional branch of YABLOKO, was brutally murdered in Elista. She died from at the hands of murderers, while performing her journalist duty fighting corruption in the republic.

In October 2002 presidential elections will take place in the Kalmyk Republic. The election campaign has already been launched in the central mass media. The "Vek" newspaper, issue No. 14, published a verbose interview with the president of the Kalmyk Republic Kirsan Ilumzhinov who is going to be elected president of the republic for the third time. Asked about the circumstances around the murder of Yudina, Ilumzhinov stated that "the court had confirmed that this crime had been due to a common domestic dispute." "Such a declaration is a blatant lie and is blasphemous towards the memory of the dead," believes deputy from the Yabloko faction, member of the Duma Security Committee Valery Ostanin, a professional lawyer who personally participated as public prosecutor in the trial on the murder of Larissa Yudina. He would like to remind Ilumzhinov that the verdict of the court directly stated that the murder of Larissa Yudina "was performed by killers while she performed her journalistic duty." This fact was confirmed by the Decree of the President of Russia Vladimir Putin - in September 2000 Larissa Yudina was post mortem granted the Order of Courage.

As the president of Kalmykia cannot be unaware of the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic, this is a deliberate lie. Why? To dispel suspicions?

Unfortunately the court that punished the hired killers lacked the courage to proceed further, even though there was evidence from multiple witnesses, as well as material evidence that pointed directly at the contract killers.

In February 2002 representatives from political organisations from Kalmykia that oppose Ilumzhinov forwarded a request to the President of the Russian Federation. A joint request, something rare nowadays, was also forwarded by representatives of the CPRF, the Union of Right-Wing Forces and YABLOKO and representatives from Unity - deputy of the State Duma Alexandra Buratayeva. Their request states that: the policies conducted by Kirsan Ilumzhinov "contradict both the state interests of the Russian Federation and the interests of the population of Kalmykia." It also states that for the past eight years of his presidency Kirsan Ilumzhinov "has created a state-corporate system which does not allow any division of powers, the real functioning of local government and suppresses fundamental human rights and liberties." "The impunitive nature of the arbitrary rule that he exercises over the population make Ilumzhinov increasingly dangerous for Russia," the authors of the address to the President of the RF stress. The representatives from the political organisations opposed to Kirsan Ilumzhinov are convinced that, "by relying on falsification of the results of the election and the virtual lack of independent judiciary in the republic", Ilumzhinov is going to implement the idea of rule for life.

In the interview Ilumzhinov constantly states how much he has done for the Kalmyk people and how the republic will flourish if he is elected for a third time. However, according to data from the State Statistical Committee, Kalmykiya is one of the seven poorest Russian regions.

In the middle of May the head of the Department against illegal drug trafficking, under the Interior Ministry of the Kalmyk Republic, was arrested in Elista together with several people from his personnel; whereas the fight between the Federal Security Service and the Interior Ministry of the republic lasted several hours. Two days later the head of the Department for the fight with economic crime of the Kalmyk department of the Federal Security Service was killed. The election campaign is in full swing…

See also:

The Murder of Larissa Yudina

Action in memory of Larissa Yudina
Moscow, entrance to the Federation Council.
Photos by Olga Shweitzer.
June 7, 2002.

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