Accused Russian War Criminal Killed in Moscow as Violence Continues in North Caucasus

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 12 Issue: 12

Former Russian army colonel Yury Budanov, who was convicted in 2003 of strangling to death an 18-year-old Chechen girl, Elza Kungaeva, while serving as a tank commander in Chechnya in 2000, was murdered today (June 10) in Moscow. Investigators said the car used by the killer (or killers) has been found, along with the weapon – a pistol with a silencer. They also said that the murder seems to have been carefully planned, and that one of the motives being explored is revenge. The spokesman for the Investigative Committee, Vladimir Markin, said it was possible Budanov’s killer(s) had followed him for some time and that footage from security cameras in the area of the murder would be examined and eyewitnesses questioned.
Budanov was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Kungaeva, and was paroled in December 2008. The case became a cause célèbre for Russian nationalists and has been linked to the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who represented Kungaeva’s family and was shot to death in Moscow in January 2009. A number of observers, including Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group, were quoted today as saying Budanov’s murder was likely revenge for the murder of Kungaeva. The leader of the Russian nationalist movement “Russkiye,” Dmitry Demushkin, said he and other Russian nationalists “have no doubts that the tracks of this murder lead back to the Chechen Republic.” Demushkin predicted the murder would trigger a surge of nationalism across Russia (,, June 10).
Meanwhile, insurgency-related violence continues in the North Caucasus. The Kavkazsky Uzel website reported today that a special operation targeting alleged rebels was in progress in the village of Neitrino in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Elbrus district, and that two of the suspected insurgents had been killed. A law-enforcement source was quoted as saying that among the group of suspected rebels blockaded in the village may be Astemir Mamishev, who was a suspect in the murder of Kabardino-Balkaria’s mufti Anas-khadzhi Pshikhachev last December and was thought to have been killed in a special operation in Nalchik on May 10 (, June 10).
Unidentified gunmen fired on a police patrol car in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Chereksk district yesterday (June 9), wounding one policeman. The attackers fired at the car from a wooded area as it was driving along the Staryi Chereg – Sukan-Su highway.
Also on June 9, police in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Chegem district raided the home of a suspected rebel accomplice in the village of Yanikoi and discovered a radio-controlled explosive device equivalent to 400 grams of TNT. A law-enforcement source said the device consisted of a plastic bag filled with the explosive hexogen and screws, wrapped in tape and connected to an electronic detonator. According to Kabardino-Balkaria’s interior ministry, three mini-bomb factories have been discovered in the republic this year (, June 9).
On June 6, a suspected rebel was killed in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Baksan district when, according to the republic’s branch of Investigative Committee, he violently resisted law-enforcement agents who tried to detain him. The incident took place in the Koopereator district of the city of Baksan. The suspected rebel was identified as Zalim Kazdokhov, a 29-year-old local resident (, June 6).
On June 2, unidentified attackers fired on a traffic police post on the outskirts of the village of Elbrus in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Elbrus district. The attackers fired automatic rifles and grenade launchers at the post, which was manned by local traffic police and interior ministry internal troops servicemen. Nobody was hurt in the incident (, June 3). In Dagestan, a policeman was shot to death by unidentified attackers in the capital Makhachkala on June 8 (, June 8).
On June 7, the rector of the Institute of Theology and International Relations in Makhachkala, Maksud Sadikov, and his nephew were shot to death by unknown assailants near Sadikov’s home. Sadikov had been rector of the institute since 2003 andhad tried to promote education as a weapon in the fight against religious extremism (RIA Novosti, June7; The Moscow Times, June 9).
In Ingushetia, two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) were discovered in a wooded area 2.5 kilometers away from the village of Staraya Chemulga on June 8. The IEDs were defused (, June 8).
In Chechnya, an explosion in the republic’s Urus-Martan district on June 5 killed one policeman and wounded two interior ministry internal troops servicemen. The blast, apparently caused by an IED, took place a kilometer-and-a-half away from the village of Alkhazurovo (, June 6).