Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 25

Moscow’s beleaguered human rights advocates are keeping open minds about the death on July 2 of one of their heroes, Duma member Yury Shchekochikhin. The outspoken critic of the war in Chechnya, who also served as deputy editor of Novaya gazeta, suffered a serious allergic reaction during a mid-June trip to Ryazan. Doctors were unable to pinpoint the cause of the skin rash and damage to his internal organs that followed; he spent the last five days of his life in a coma.

Shchekochikhin is the second anti-war member of the Russian parliament to die in recent months under mysterious circumstances. (The first, Sergei Yushenkov, was slain by a gunman on April 17; see Chechnya Weekly, April 24.) Duma colleague Aleksandr Gurov told the website Gazeta.ru that “too many questions have been left unanswered after his death.”

A statement published on July 7 by the editors of Novaya gazeta expressed thanks to Shchekochikhin’s doctors for having done “everything possible” for him. Pending the results of an autopsy, they refrained from expressing any views about the cause of death.