Last week a jury trial in the southern Russian city of Rostov on the Don declined to convict of murder—or even of any lesser charge—two lieutenants serving in Russia’s Interior Ministry troops. Valery Yakov reported in Novye izvestia on July 5 that the two had shot dead three Chechen construction workers. The officers were not following orders, but acted “simply from boredom and vodka.” The jury, however, did not find anything criminal in their actions.
Lieutenants Yevgeny Khudyakov and Sergei Arakcheyev of the Interior Ministry’s elite Dzerzhinsky division, named after the Lenin-era founder of the Soviet secret police, were conducting a “special operation” near Grozny on January 14, 2003, when they stopped a truck carrying construction workers Said Yangulbaev, Abdulla Dzhambekov and Nazhmudi Khasanov. According to prosecutors, Khudyakov personally dragged the workers out of their truck, ordered them to lie down on the ground and shot each of them in the head. The federal troops then put the corpses back into the truck and set fire to it.
Yakov called the ruling “yet another clear proof that Russian society is now on the brink of total moral degradation, at a boundary beyond which the world is divided into white and black, into own people and our enemies…If such a society has any future, it will be a sad one.”