Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 219

State Duma deputy and veteran pro-democracy activist Galina Starovoitova was buried on Tuesday at St. Petersburg’s Aleksandr Nevsky Lavra monastery, in the same cemetery where Fyodor Dostoevsky, Pyotr Tchaikovsky and other luminaries of Russian history are buried. The burial ceremony was delayed by several hours to allow thousands of mourners to file by the coffin. Among them were three former heads of the Russian government–Yegor Gaidar, Viktor Chernomyrdin and Sergei Kirienko–along with many other political notables, including Anatoly Chubais, Boris Nemtsov and Grigory Yavlinsky. In his eulogy, Vladimir Lukin, formerly Russia’s ambassador to Washington who now heads the State Duma’s foreign relations committee, declared: “Starovoitova worked in a zoo with cages that are open wide. And that beast devoured her.” Chernomyrdin declared: “She insisted on freedom, but herself was left unprotected.” In his eulogy, Chubais, a top official in Russia’s Democratic Choice, as was Starovoitova, made reference to the 1997 murder of St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Mikhail Manevich, saying it was not the first time he was burying one his friends in the same cemetery. “They want to stop us, to scare us,” Chubais said. “Nothing will come of it… I know what Starovoitova gave her life for, and we will see her cause through to the end” (Kommersant daily, November 25).

The investigation into who killed Galina Starovoitova–and who ordered the murder–continues, Russian media reported today. According to one police official, investigators have already outlined the main possible “versions” for the murder. Igor Kozhevnikov, who is heading the Interior Ministry committee responsible for the case, said investigators are looking at a “Moscow footprint” in the case, connected to an attempt to bug the St. Petersburg offices of Starovoitova and fellow State Duma deputy Yuly Rybakov last September (Russian agencies, November 24). Two Moscow residents were subsequently arrested in that incident. The “St. Petersburg Times” reported at the time that one of the pair had previously worked as deputy chairman of Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov’s press service, and that both detainees were “well known for attempting to gather compromising materials on politicians” (St. Petersburg Times, September 18). The criminal case against the two was later dropped, but has reportedly been reactivated. Interior Ministry investigators have reportedly asked local police throughout Russia to work on the case, and one newspaper speculated that investigators are already working on leads provided to them by Ruslan Linkov, the aide to Starovoitova who was severely wounded in the shooting (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 25).