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Moscow Approves Rallies For Murdered Lawyer, Journalist

Slain reporter Anastasia Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov

Slain reporter Anastasia Baburova and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov

MOSCOW -- Moscow authorities have ruled that they will allow two demonstrations on January 19 to mark the first anniversary of the murder of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova, RFE/RL's Russian Service reported, quoting radio station Ekho Moskvy.

The decision reverses an earlier move to reject a request by human rights activists to hold a march in the center of Moscow commemorating the killings.

Rights activists had vowed to stage the rally even without official approval.

Markelov had represented the family of a young Chechen woman killed in 2000 by Russian army officer Yury Budanov, who was released from jail on January 15, 2009, after serving 8 1/2 years of the 10-year sentence he received for that murder.

The two were gunned down in broad daylight on January 19, 2009, after Markelov had given a press conference protesting Budanov's early release. Markelov died on the spot; Baburova died later of her wounds.

The killings of Markelov and Baburova were condemned by international rights groups and have come to represent the climate of fear and lawlessness surrounding rights work in Chechnya.

Baburova's mother, Larisa, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that the two "were very talented people and gave everything they had to the struggle against the shameful phenomenon of fascism. They were thoroughly honest -- both my daughter and Stanislav Yurevich," she said.