Anastasiya Baburova

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

An assailant wearing a ski mask shot Baburova, 25, a freelance correspondent for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, at around 3 p.m. on a downtown street within walking distance of the Kremlin. Baburova had just covered a news conference at which prominent human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov fiercely denounced the early prison release of a Russian army officer convicted in the March 2000 abduction and murder of a Chechen girl. The lawyer and journalist had just left the Independent Press Center, where the news conference was held, and were chatting as they strolled outside.

The assailant shot Markelov in the back of the head with a pistol fitted with a silencer, the independent business daily Kommersant reported, citing sources in the Prosecutor General’s office. Baburova apparently tried to stop the killer, who walked past her after shooting Markelov; the man then shot her in the head, Kommersant reported, citing unnamed witnesses. Markelov, 34, died immediately; Baburova died several hours later in a Moscow hospital, where she had undergone surgery, the independent news Web site Lenta reported.

Baburova was a journalism student at Moscow State University and had contributed to Novaya Gazeta since October 2008, covering the activities of neo-Nazi groups and race-motivated crimes, which had been on the rise in Moscow, Deputy Editor Sergei Sokolov told CPJ.

On April 28, 2011, a jury at the Moscow City Court declared two radical nationalists–Nikita Tikhonov and his common-law wife, Yevgeniya Khasis–guilty in the double murder, local and international press reported. Russian investigators had arrested the two in November 2009.

Tikhonov was found guilty of killing Baburova and Markelov as well as illegal appropriation and possession of firearms and forgery of personal identity documents. Khasis was found guilty of being an accomplice in the murder and of illegally possessing firearms. Sergei Sokolov, deputy editor of Novaya Gazeta, told CPJ the newspaper was satisfied with the verdict but hoped additional accomplices would be brought to trial. Tikhonov was sentenced to life imprisonment and Khasis to 18 years in prison.

On July 15, 2015, the Moscow City Court convicted Ilya Goryachev, a leader of the extremist Battle Organization of Russian Nationalists, as the mastermind of the murder, according to news reports. Nine days later, the court sentenced Goryachev to life in prison in connection with the case. The court also said Goryachev had organized the killings of four other individuals, the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) reported.