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Murder could stoke ethnic tensions in Russia

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Murder could stoke ethnic tensions in Russia


A former colonel in the Russian Army has been shot dead at point blank range by an unidentified gunman in a Moscow street.

Investigators think this is a not a random crime, but one with a subtext.

During the conflict in Chechnya, Yuri Budanov strangled a teenage girl, convinced she was a rebel sniper. The crime became symbolic of the abuse perpetrated by the Russian army in the conflict-torn republic.

In 2003, Budanov was convicted of kidnapping and murdering Elza Kungayeva. He served nine years of a 10 year sentence for the killing. There were angry protests when he was freed early in 2009.

Just days after Budanov was released from jail, a masked gunman killed human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov. Markelov was leaving a press conference where he had angrily criticised Budanov’s early release.

There are those who regard Budanov as a nationalist hero. Officials said his murder could be aimed at stirring up already-simmering ethnic tensions in Russia, with some already putting revenge-seeking Chechens in the frame.

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