Manezkha Redeux? Budanov Murder May Spark Nationalist Backlash
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On June 10, former Colonel Yuri Budanov was gunned down in Moscow. His murder is expected to galvanize Russian nationalists. Already flowers were reportedly taken to the scene of the murder, and nationalist activists are reportedly planning a flash-mob type of action similar to what happened in Moscow in late 2010 (https://echo.msk.ru/news/783342-echo.html). Moscow police detachments are patrolling the Manezhnaya square where Russian nationalist riots took place in December 2010 as fears grow there may be another round of uprisings (https://echo.msk.ru/news/783361-echo.html). A leader of Russian nationalists, Dmitry Dyomushkin, stated that the nationalists had “no doubts this murder could be tracked back to the Chechen republic” (https://www.rosbalt.ru/kavkaz/2011/06/10/857814.html).
In 2003, Budanov was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of 18-year-old Chechen girl, Elza Kungaeva. In 2009, Budanov was released on parole. Colonel Budanov served as the head of a Russian military detachment during the second war in Chechnya. Budanov’s trial became the most notorious of few Russian military crimes in Chechnya that were investigated by the Russian state. Russian nationalists defended Budanov, regarding him as a hero, while the pro-Moscow government in Chechnya demanded harsh punishment for him. Ramzan Kadyrov’s close aide Adam Delimkhanov briefly commented on Budanov’s killing: “I think it is retribution” (https://www.gazeta.ru/politics/2011/06/10_a_3659061.shtml).
The anxiety of the government to prevent Russian nationalist backlash is reflected in attempts to portray the killing as “a provocation.” Nationalist politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky stated the murder was designed to undermine Russia as a viable partner for the EU, as a Russia-EU summit started in Nizhny Novgorod on June 10. Investigators assure the driver of the killers’ car was of “Slavic appearance”, i.e. the killers were not Chechens (https://www.gazeta.ru/social/2011/06/10/3659081.shtml). The indications are that Russian society is becoming extremely sensitive to crimes in Russia proper that involve North Caucasians, so any such event might spark serious clashes and unrest in Moscow.