"Somebody wants tragic sensations. I think first of all about those who seek to drive a wedge between Russians and Chechens. It seems to me that someone needs them to be constantly in court and quarreling," Yury Budanov told popular Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda.
Budanov was given early release last week from a 10-year prison term for murdering Elsa Kungayeva while he commanded a tank regiment during the second Chechen war.
Stanislav Markelov, who as lawyer for the young Chechen woman's family had appealed against Budanov's release, was shot dead on Monday in downtown Moscow. Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova, 25, was wounded in the shooting and died in hospital later on Monday.
The incident occurred shortly after Markelov finished a news conference on the controversial parole of Budanov and his release on January 15. Investigators said they believe the killing of Markelov was connected to his professional activity. They said Baburova "became an accidental witness and victim in the crime."
Markelov has been involved in a number of high-profile cases. Besides representing Kungayeva's family, he had started an independent investigation into an attack on Mikhail Beketov, editor-in-chief of the local Khimki Pravda newspaper.
Beketov, who fought a campaign against the construction of a toll expressway through a forest in Khimki, a city northwest of Moscow, was found unconscious in the street on November 13 after being badly beaten near his home.
Budanov has flatly denied the allegations by human rights activists that he had masterminded the killing of the lawyer. In the appeal against Budanov's release, Markelov claimed the former officer "was still threatening the Kungayev family."
"If someone has decided to cast a shadow on me now, he has made a mistake," Budanov said. "These instigators have no chance of showing my guilt in this incident. ... This is a dirty provocation that has nothing to do with me."
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has slammed the court's decision, saying the Budanov case "justified all war criminals" and was intolerable.
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Some people are trying to make the reality in Russia at least a bit more humane. The amnesty should apply not only to persons involved in high-profile cases, but also to individuals who are not as well-known. It is better to set free at least some of the individuals who deserve to be released than no one at all.