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Eyewitness identifies main suspect as lawyer Markelov's killer

Flowers, Photographs and Mourners at Assassination Site of Markelov and BaburovaMOSCOW. Feb 22 (Interfax) - An eyewitness identified suspect Nikita Tikhonov as the killer of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova at a session in the Moscow City Court on Tuesday.
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"I saw this man on January 19, 2009. I was an eyewitness of the murder committed on that day," Andrei Murashkin said.

Another witness, who was not present at the courtroom because he feared for his safety, identified Tikhonov as the murderer of Markelov and Baburova as well.

- - Meanwhile, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgeniya Khasis, defendants in the murder case of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasiya Baburova, said they are not admitting guilt.

After being indicted by the prosecutors, Tikhonov said: "I do not admit my guilt in the double murder. I do not admit my guilt in the storage and possession of weapons by a group, which is a crime enshrined by Part 3 of Article 222. I did that alone and I admit the use of forged documents, which I used to rent the apartment."

Khasis said: "I do not admit to any of the charges against me. I did not commit any crimes and I had no motives. I am deeply convinced that Nikita Tikhonov was framed to make it impossible to find the real assassins."

The Moscow City Court began trying the murder case of Markelov and Baburova on Monday.

The jury to try this case was selected last week. The jury includes 21 people, including 12 main jurors and nine reserve jurors.

Markelov and Baburova were killed on January 19, 2009 near the Kropotkinskaya metro station in Moscow.

Tikhonov and Khasis, both members of the Russky Obraz (Russian Image) nationalist organization, were arrested on November 3 and 4 the same year. On November 5, Moscow's Bassmanny District Court upheld their arrest.

Tikhonov first pleaded guilty to murdering Markelov and Baburova, saying that he had done it alone. But in late 2009, after the court ordered him to stay in custody till April 2010, claimed that he had testified under pressure.

On July 23, 2010, the double murder charge against Khasis was dropped during the preliminary investigation. She is now accused of complicity in Markelov's murder.

On August 16 and 17, 2010, the court extended Tikhonov's and Khasis's terms in custody till November 4 and 3 respectively.

Tikhonov and Khasis expressed a wish to marry but the investigator said they would have to wait till the case goes to court.

Markelov took high-profile cases, including those related to human rights violations by police in Chechnya, and is said to have been closely cooperating with Novaya Gazeta journalist Anna Politkovskaya and human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, both of whom are no longer alive.

The murder of Markelov and Baburova sparked an international outcry, with the European Parliament passing a resolution in mid-February on the rule of law in Russia.

The European Parliament in particular urged the Russian authorities to find and bring those responsible for the murders of journalists and human rights activists to justice. The list of victims' names includes Natalya Estemirova, Andrei Kulagin, Zarema Sadulayeva, Alika Dzhabrailova, Maksharip Aushev, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova and Anna Politkovskaya. The document also mentions the death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.

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