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Resolution adopted unanimously by the IPU Governing Council at its 187th session
(Geneva, 6 October 2010)

The Governing Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Referring to the case of Ms. Galina Starovoitova, a member of the State Duma of the Russian Federation who was assassinated on 20 November 1998, as outlined in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/187/12(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 186th session (April 2010),

Recalling the following information on file, as provided over the years mostly by the State Duma, regarding the investigation and judicial proceedings:

  • In June 2005, two persons, Mr. Kolchin and Mr. Akishin, were found guilty of Ms. Starovoitova’s murder and sentenced to 20 years in prison by the St. Petersburg City Court, which in its judgment concluded that the murder had been politically motivated; in September 2007, Mr. V.B. Lelyavin was found guilty of complicity in the murder and sentenced to 11 years in prison while Mr. Stekhnovsky was sentenced to two years in prison and has since been released; four other suspects were acquitted and released;

  • National and international arrest warrants are pending against Mr. Mussin, Mr. Bogdanov and Mr. Fedesov, who have been charged with committing a terrorist act and attempting to commit a crime for the purpose of concealment;

  • On 25 August 2009, the Federal Security Service reopened the investigation of the case after new evidence emerged and an appeal was made by Mr. Linkov, Ms. Starovoitova's assistant, and her sister to the President of the Russian Federation; the appeal was made following the arrest in June 2009 of a former member of the State Duma, Mr. Mikhael Glushchenko, in St. Petersburg on suspicion of organizing the killing of three Russian citizens in Cyprus; according to media reports, during the course of the investigation, the assassins mentioned on record that they had visited Mr. Glushchenko’s parliamentary office on a number of occasions and that the office had been used as a headquarters for a surveillance operation of Ms. Starovoitova; according to the Prosecutor General's report of 2 October 2009, Mr. Glushchenko was questioned about the case of Ms. Starovoitova and a further investigation was carried out, but it did not produce sufficient evidence of his involvement in the murder;

  • According to the Prosecutor General's report of 2 October 2009, "the investigation of the case was suspended on 4 September 2009" and "there are at present no grounds for changing the decision taken and reopening the investigation"; yet the same report continues by stating that, in accordance with legislation on criminal proceedings and the Federal Law on "operational investigative activity", the preliminary investigation body determined a set of measures intended to identify the instigators of the crime and locate the accused who were evading justice, and that the investigation of the case and the operational investigative steps were monitored by the Public Prosecution Department in St. Petersburg and by the Prosecutor General's Office,
Recalling that Ms. Starovoitova was a prominent Russian human rights advocate and had denounced instances of high-profile corruption shortly before her assassination; recalling in this respect that in its concluding observations of 24 November 2009 regarding the implementation by the Russian Federation of its obligations as a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the United Nations Human Rights Committee expressed “its concern at the alarming incidence of threats, violent assaults and murders of journalists and human rights defenders in the State Party, which has created a climate of fear and a chilling effect on the media ...” and urged the State Party “to take immediate action to provide effective protection and ensure the prompt, effective, thorough, independent, and impartial investigation of threats, violent assaults and murders and, when appropriate, prosecute and institute proceedings against the perpetrators of such acts”; recalling also that many States made similar recommendations during the Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation’s compliance with its human rights obligations before the United Nations Human Rights Council (February 2009),
  1. Is deeply concerned that, almost 12 years after Ms. Starovoitova was murdered for political reasons, the authorities, despite their substantial achievements in bringing to justice several of the perpetrators, have made no tangible progress in identifying and holding to account the masterminds;

  2. Regrets that, in the light of this state of affairs, the Russian delegations to the current and recent past IPU Assemblies have not seen fit to meet with the Committee to discuss the status and course of the current investigation and the latest monitoring steps taken by the Parliament; stresses that it is precisely through such direct dialogue that the Committee would acquire a better understanding of the challenges as well as the opportunities that may exist to shed full light on this heinous crime; sincerely hopes therefore that such an exchange of views will take place on the occasion of the next Assemblies;

  3. Reaffirms that, so long as those who killed Ms. Starovoitova remain at large, her murder continues to serve as a deterrent for others wishing to speak out on critical issues and can only embolden those bent on silencing such voices, and thus undermine freedom of expression;

  4. Calls therefore again on the authorities to do their utmost, as is their duty, by lending fresh impetus to the investigation with a view to finally elucidating this crime and identifying the instigators; renews its call on the Parliament of the Russian Federation, which has a special interest in the case since the victim was a member and was killed on account of having exercised her freedom of speech, a parliamentarian’s basic tool, to carry out the stringent oversight that the lack of results on this point warrants;

  5. Reiterates its wish to receive official information that is publicly available on the current investigation and the latest monitoring steps taken by the Parliament, together with copies of the judgments handed down on Mr. Kolchin and Mr. Akishin, at least of the Court's conclusions, together with, if possible, copies of the judgments handed down on the other culprits and confirmation that the first three persons convicted in this case are indeed serving their sentences;

  6. Requests the Secretary General to bring this resolution to the attention of the authorities and of the source;

  7. Requests the Committee to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session, to be held on the occasion of the 124th IPU Assembly (April 2011).
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