A crowd of some ten thousand people turned out in Moscow yesterday for the funeral of State Duma deputy Lev Rokhlin. Rokhlin, who led a pro-military opposition movement, was shot dead at his dacha outside Moscow in the early hours of July 3. Opposition leaders and striking coal miners were out in force at yesterday’s ceremonies. (RTR, July 7) No one relishes a conspiracy theory more than the Russian media, and the press is awash with speculation that Rokhlin’s death was politically motivated. Police say that Rokhlin’s wife Tamara has confessed to killing her husband in a marital dispute but Rokhlin’s children, perhaps in an effort to protect their mother, have furiously denied that the murder was committed for domestic reasons. Yuri Markin, a lawyer who worked with Rokhlin, added fuel to the flames last night when he claimed that an attempt was made on his own life the same night that Rokhlin died. Markin insisted that Rokhlin was killed because he was investigating thefts by major Russian oil companies. Markin claimed the oil went to buy weapons for use in the North Caucasus. (ORT, July 7)
Rokhlin, 51, was an army general who served with distinction in Afghanistan and Chechnya, where he masterminded the 1995 capture of Grozny and earned the affection of his soldiers by the unusual care he took to preserve their lives. He sprang to national prominence when he refused to accept the Hero of Russia medal from the hands of then Defense Minister Pavel Grachev, whom Rokhlin accused both of careless disregard for the safety of the troops and of personal corruption Rokhlin left the army to go into politics and founded the opposition Movement in Defense of the Army, Defense Industry and Military Science. Rokhlin’s death was commemorated in other parts of Russia, too. The Monitor’s correspondent in Saratov Oblast reports that a large crowd of local opposition parties and movements picketed the headquarters of the regional government in central Saratov yesterday, holding red flags and portraits of the general. Our correspondent says that everyone present at the demonstration expressed the conviction that Rokhlin’s death was politically motivated.
STEPASHIN COMPLETES TOUR OF INSPECTION IN NORTH CAUCASUS.