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Chechen Leader Affirms Support For Budanov Murder Case Lawyer

Murad Musayev (file photo)
Murad Musayev (file photo)
Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov has publicly challenged the Investigative Committee's rationale for opening two criminal cases against Murad Musayev, the young Chechen lawyer who defended the Chechen accused in the murder in June 2011 of former Russian army Colonel Yury Budanov.

Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin announced on November 6 that two separate investigations had been launched into Musayev's purported bribing of witnesses and jurors in the trial of Yury Temerkhanov, a Moscow-based Chechen businessman who was arrested in August 2011 on suspicion of killing Budanov in revenge for the death of his father at the hands of drunken Russian military servicemen in February 2000.

Kadyrov described the investigations into Musayev's suspected efforts to pervert the course of justice as "odd." He said he is firmly convinced, first, that it will prove impossible to intimidate Musayev, and second, that "justice and the law will prevail."

Writing on his Facebook page, Musayev attributed the twin investigations against him to the Investigative Committee's desire to "kill three birds with one stone:" to preclude his participation in the imminent Temerkhanov appeal hearing; to prevent his further representation of the family of Anna Politkovskaya, the investigative journalist shot dead in Moscow in October 2006, at the ongoing trial of five men accused of that killing; and to intimidate the jury in the trial of Musayev's client Vyacheslav Tsepovyaz, one of several men accused of a series of high-profile murders and robberies in the south Russian village of Kushchevkaya.

Musayev told RFE/RL that the investigations are an attempt to silence him, but that the attempt will not succeed.

Budanov achieved notoriety while serving in the Russian army in Chechnya during the 1999-2000 war. In March 2000, he raped and murdered Elza Kungayeva, a young Chechen woman who he said he believed was an enemy sniper. Budanov went on trial for that killing in 2002 but was acquitted on the grounds of temporary insanity.

The Russian Supreme Court overturned that ruling, and Budanov stood trial a second time and was found guilty. He served less than six years of his 10-year sentence before being released from jail on parole. The charges against him were annulled.

The Chechen authorities were outraged by Budanov's pre-term release. Kadyrov pronounced Budanov an enemy of the Chechen people and argued that his sentence should have been harsher. Human-rights ombudsman Nudri Nukhadjiyev wrote to Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin denouncing as without legal foundation the decision to annul the charges against Budanov.

Budanov was shot dead outside a notary's office in Moscow on June 10, 2011, by a lone gunman who witnesses say escaped in a silver Mitsubishi Lancer identical to Temerkhanov's that was later found abandoned. Temerkhanov was apprehended two months later and, he claims, held outside Moscow for a week by masked men who questioned him about the Chechen authorities' possible involvement in Budanov's murder. Temerkhanov was released and promptly apprehended by Moscow police.

After an investigation that lasted almost a year, Temerkhanov went on trial in early December 2012. Although he pleaded not guilty and two witnesses testified that he bore no resemblance to the suspected killer they had seen drive the silver Mitsubishi away from the scene of the crime, the court found him guilty on the basis of material evidence. A newspaper left in the getaway car was found to bear his palm print, and clothing identical to that worn by the putative killer was discovered in his Moscow apartment. Temerkhanov's lawyers claimed the evidence was planted.

Temerkhanov was sentenced in May to 15 years imprisonment, which is longer than the term handed down to Budanov for killing Kungayeva. His lawyers appealed that sentence.

Musayev, 30, was born in Grozny. His father and one of his brothers are also lawyers. Musayev first made a name for himself defending Chechens arrested in Moscow on drugs-related charges that were fabricated purely on the grounds of their ethnicity.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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