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Hundreds turn out to protest political murders

Around 300 people gathered in central Moscow on Sunday in memory of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova, gunned down in Moscow on January 19. "No to political murders," they chanted.


AFP - Hundreds of people marched in Moscow on Sunday to protest the recent killings of a prominent human rights lawyer and a young journalist, Russian media reported.

"I think it's possible that the meeting will contain as many as 500 people," prominent rights activist and organiser Lev Ponomarev told the Interfax news agency.

At least 300 people took to the streets despite freezing temperatures and heavy snow to express their anger over the killings last month of Stanislav Markelov, 34, and 25-year-old reporter Anastasiya Baburova.

The pair were gunned down in central Moscow in broad daylight after leaving a news conference in January.

Markelov had protested against the shock release from prison of a Russian army colonel convicted of murdering an 18-year-old Chechen girl.

He had already said he would challenge the decision in the courts.

Baburova, an intern reporter for opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta, had written a number of reports on racism and ultra-nationalism in Russia.

Novaya Gazeta had already been hit by tragedy when its star reporter Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down in Moscow in 2006.

In a rare move, Moscow City Hall reversed an earlier decision to ban the march, allowing the procession to make its way through some of the most visible and highly-trafficked areas of the capital, Interfax said.

The organisers of the protest asked the marchers not to carry placards so as not to politicise the march, although at least one woman had pinned a photo of Baburova to her jacket, liberal radio station "Echo of Moscow" reported.

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