Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 23

On June 2, Viktor Popkov, a leading Russian human rights activist, died in a military hospital outside of Moscow. Popkov had been severely wounded by an unidentified assailant firing an automatic weapon from a car near the settlement of Alkhan-Kala in Chechnya on April 18, while participating in a humanitarian aid mission. Popkov’s condition had been irreversibly aggravated when Russian soldiers at a checkpoint had spent three hours painstakingly examining the papers of the human rights worker and two bleeding companions rather than permitting them to be rushed to a hospital. (Glasnost Foundation, 4 June) The leading Russian human rights organization Memorial paid this tribute to the deceased: “We have known Viktor Popkov since the end of the 1980s as one of the most active Russian defenders of human rights…. Vitya tried to halt or avert violence and to help innocent victims…. A Christian, he fearlessly aided people regardless of their creed and provided an example to all believers, showing through deeds that God is love” (Memo from Memorial).