Russians arrest neo-Nazi for Moscow murders

The Age, Australia/November 7, 2009

Investigators say they have solved one of Russia's most notorious killings, after a man and a woman were arrested for the murders of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova.

Mr Markelov, a friend of the assassinated journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and Ms Baburova were gunned down in central Moscow in January.

Yesterday Russia's federal security service named their killers as Eugenia Khasis, 24, and Nikita Tikhonov, 29.

While Khasis appears to have no previous convictions, Tikhonov is a veteran neo-Nazi activist.

According to the Kommersant newspaper, Khasis allegedly acted as a ''spotter'', trailing Mr Markelov and Ms Baburova as they left Moscow's independent press centre. Tipped off, Tikhonov was then alleged to have shot them using a silencer-fitted pistol.

Friends of Mr Markelov and Ms Baburova urged caution over the arrests, pointing out the murders did not resemble other attacks by ultra-nationalist gangs, whose hallmarks are large groups and knives.

News of the arrests came as the human rights group Memorial said gunmen loyal to Chechnya's pro-Kremlin president, Ramzan Kadyrov, had abducted an activist in Moscow and flown him to Chechnya.

Chechen security officials grabbed Arbi Khachukayev on Thursday afternoon and bundled him on to a flight to Chechnya's capital, Grozny, Memorial said, expressing concern for his safety.

Chechnya's Interior Ministry claimed that Mr Khachukayev had been seized for taking part in an ''armed assault''.

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