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Human rights cases

Galina Starovoitova, Russia

Galina Starovoitova was killed to halt her political activities ©Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

Russian human rights campaigner and MP Galina Starovoitova was murdered in 1998. After years of delay, some of those responsible have been brought to justice but others are thought to remain at large. 

Russian MP Galina Starovoitova was shot and killed in 1998 in a politically motivated murder.

She was an outspoken pro-democracy and human rights campaigner who had previously criticised communists, extreme nationalists and Russia’s organised crime gangs. Not long before her death she had highlighted claims of high-level corruption.

Galina Starovoitova, who led the Democratic Russia party, was shot in the head as she walked up the stairs of her block of flats in St Petersburg in November 1998. Her personal assistant was critically injured but survived.

Six suspects were finally arrested four years later, two of whom received long jail terms and four of whom were cleared. In 2007, another two people were jailed for complicity. 

The stop-start investigation has been the subject of much international criticism.  

One of the jailed men, Yuri Kolchin, is a former military intelligence office who also had gangland links. He later named a former ultranationalist MP, Mikhail Glushchenko, as the man who had hired him. After being charged in 2013, Glushchenko - already in jail for other offences - named at least one other alleged plotter.

Anna Starovoitova's family and supporters had long believed her murder was politically motivated, and a Russian court finally ruled that she had been the victim of a contract killing aimed at halting her political activities.

IPU believes Starovoitova was killed for exercising her freedom of speech. It is deeply concerned that at least some of those responsible remain at large, and about the likely impact on freedom of speech - potentially deterring others from speaking out and emboldening those wanting to silence them.

It has urged the Russian parliament to keep up its interest in the case until it is finally completely solved and all those involved have been brought to justice.