MOSCOW (AP) - A judge who sentenced neo-Nazis to prison for hate killings was gunned down Monday, marking the latest murder in a surge of violence against activists and officials opposed to Russian nationalists.
Moscow City Court judge Eduard Chuvashov was shot contract-style
in the stairwell of his apartment building in central Moscow,
Russia's top investigative body said.
The murderer used a silencer and left no shells, but investigators obtained footage from surveillance cameras showing a tall Slavic man, about 30-years-old, coming out of Chuvashov's apartment building shortly after the killing, it said.
"We have definitive leads," investigator Pyotr Titov said in
A leading rights group pointed the finger at a far-right
ultranationalist group with alleged ties to Kremlin-backed youth
movements, saying it may have links to the murder and incited
hatred for Chuvashov on the Internet. A nationalist leader denied
Russia has experienced a surge of xenophobia and
racially-motivated assaults in the years after the Soviet collapse,
and the number of neo-Nazi groups has mushroomed.
As the nation struggles through an ongoing economic meltdown,
nationalist groups have targeted dark-skinned migrants from
ex-Soviet Central Asian nations and Russia's own North Caucasus
region, accusing them of stealing jobs from ethnic Russians.
Chuvashov, 47, presided over several high-profile cases that
involved hate killings committed by neo-Nazis and skinheads.
In February, Chuvashov presided over the trial of the White
Wolves, a gang of mostly teenaged skinheads who kicked and stabbed
their victims to death, often videotaping the attacks and posting
them online. They were convicted by a jury of the killings of six
Central Asian people and Chuvashov sentenced them to up to 23 years
Chuvashov began receiving threats during the trial, a
Moscow-based hate crime monitoring group, Sova, said.
The group's deputy director, Galina Kozhevnikova, said a leader
of ultranationalist group Russky Obraz wrote in his blog in January
that Chuvashov advocated the killing of ethnic Russians.
The post, which was paired with Chuvashov's photograph, drew
comments calling for Chuvashov to be killed, but was soon removed,
Alexander Baranovsky, who allegedly wrote the post, denied doing
so, and called the accusations "absurd."
"Nationalists are a very useful bogey man that can be accused
of any big crime these days," Baranovsky told The Associated
He said his supporters were satisfied with the results of the
White Wolves' trial because no defendant was sentenced to life in
"Nationalists never had any complaints about Chuvashov; the way
he judged the (White Wolves) trial was normal," Baranovsky said.
Baranovsky has provided legal assistance to two Russky Obraz
members who were charged with the January 2009 killing of human
rights advocate Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia
Russian anti-racist activists and rights groups also claimed
that Russky Obraz had ties with Young Russia, one of several
government-funded groups known for street rallies and harassment of
Kremlin political opponents.
Young Russia and its leader, a member of the Russian parliament,
has denied such links.
So far this year, 12 people have been killed and more than 70
wounded in racist attacks, the Sova center said. In 2009, a total
of 71 people were killed and 333 wounded, it said.
Sova's Kozhevnikova said that Russian far-right nationalists are
increasingly targeting officials and activists who oppose violent
nationalism. "They are facing more and more danger these days,"
she told the AP.
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)