Sergei Yushenkov

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Sergei Yushenkov (Сергей Юшенков) (1950-2003) was a liberal Russian politician well known for his uncompromising struggle for democracy, rapid free market economic reforms, and higher human rights standards in Russia. He was assassinated on April 17, 2003, just hours after registering his political party to participate in the December 2003 parliamentary elections.

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[edit] Political career

Yushenkov was an elected member of all Russian Parliaments from 1989 to 2003. During the Soviet coup attempt of 1991, he organized the "living chain" of civilians who came to protect their Parliament in Moscow, and he successfully negotiated with military personnel sent to storm the building.

As a person with a military background, Yushenkov was the strongest proponent of reform in the Russian Army, and he campaigned tirelessly to abolish conscription, reduce the size of the Army, and protect all rights of military personnel who suffered from abuse and dedovshchina. Yushenkov was a prominent critic of the Chechen Wars. He argued that Russian Army operates in Chechnya (a part of Russia) illegally.

His political party, Liberal Russia, was officially formed on October 22, 2002. The other initial organizers of this party before its registration were Vladimir Golovlev, Victor Pokhmelkin, and controversial businessman Boris Berezovsky. Vladimir Golovlev was assassinated on August 21, 2002 (his killers were never found), and Boris Berezovsky was expelled, presumably on the request of State authorites who refused to register the party, and possibly due to tensions between the initial organizers of the party [1].

[edit] Kovalev commission

Yushenkov was vice chairman of the Sergei Kovalev commission formed to investigate the Russian apartment bombings [2] , and his views that the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) had orchestrated the bombings to generate public support for the Chechen War were similar to those of journalist David Satter, a Johns Hopkins University and Hoover Institute scholar. <ref name="Satter">David Satter. Darkness at Dawn: The Rise of the Russian Criminal State. Yale University Press. 2003. ISBN 0-300-09892-8. </ref>. During his visit to the United States in April 2002, Yushenkov described a secret order issued by Boris Yeltsin to initiate the Second Chechen War, according to Alexander Goldfarb [3]. The order was issued in response to a demand from 24 Russian governors that the then-unpopular Yeltsin should transfer all state powers to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Yeltsin's order was dated September 23 1999, the same day that FSB operatives were caught red-handed while planing a bomb in an apartment complex in the city of Ryazan (after which the sequence of bombings in several Russian cities suddenly stopped). The next day, Vladimir Putin began the military campaign in Chechnya. According to Yushenkov, Putin's rise to power represented a successful coup d'état organized by the FSB.

[edit] Assassination

Sergei Yushenkov was shot dead near his house in Moscow on April 17, 2003, just hours after finally obtaining the registrations needed for his Liberal Russia party to participate in the December 2003 parliamentary elections in 55 regions. His last known public utterance was "Registration has been completed." [4]. Mikhail Trepashkin believed that Yushenkov was murdered because he was a leader of an opposition party that openly challenged the power of the FSB and Russian authorities. Moreover, Yushenkov promised voters an independent investigation of the Russian apartment bombings as a key issue of his election campaign (an interview of Trepashkin can be seen in director Andrei Nekrasov's documentary "Disbelief" [5], Google Video). Just before his death, Sergei Yushenkov received threats from a high-ranking FSB general, Aleksander Mikhailov, according to Grigory Pasko [6].

[edit] Investigation

Four people have been convicted during a controversial trial for the murder of Sergei Yushenkov and are currently serving prison sentences. Most prominent among them is Mikhail Kodanev, a former co-chairman of the Liberal Russia party organized by Yushekov himself. During the trial, Mikhail Kodanev strenuously claimed to be innocent. He later tried to commit suicide and was placed in the FSB's special Lefortovo prison. According to attorney Henry Reznick, Kordanev was convicted solely on the basis of the false testimony of another convicted suspect (Alexander Vinnik) who made a series of contradictory statements, including claims that Yushenkov was killed by the government ("убила власть") [7]. Critics also insisted that the political murders of two chairmen of the Liberal Russia party should have been considered as the same case in the court, which would make it clear that some of the suspects were wrongly accused [8]. Some observers noted that Kodanev was relatively unknown in Russian politics until he was named to Yushenkov's party by Boris Berezovsky, ostensibly to make a mockery of Vladimir Putin (Kodanev was nicknamed "Putin" because he looks very much like the President). Some Russian media claimed that it was Boris Berezovsky who organized the murder of Sergei Yushenkov through his agent Mikhail Kodanev.

[edit] References

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[edit] External links

[edit] English

[edit] Russian

[edit] See also

Sergei Yushenkov

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