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Markelov murder trial - suspects deny everything

Site of Markelov and Baburova Murders, With Photographs, Flowers, Candles, MournersNationalists murder suspects Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis faced a packed courtroom on Monday and attempted to explain away the charges against them.

Both deny any involvement in the Jan. 2009 deaths of lawyer and anti-fascist specialist Stanislav Markelov, and Novaya Gazeta journalist and potential witness Anastasia Baburova.
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- - And Tikhonov claimed that the murder weapon only came into his hands as he desperately tried to raise the cash to woo Khasis by resorting to illegal arms trading and producing fake documents.

The smoking gun

An arsenal of firearms was found at their apartment, including a Kalashnikov assault rifle, a traumatic pistol and the clearly still functional 1910 Browning pistol that was used to kill Markelov and Baburova.

Despite having the murder weapon and no alibi Tikhonov was adamant that he was innocent, admitting only to forging passports and illegal arms trading.

He said that he scratched out a living from the fake documents and by selling antique pistols, claiming it was this desperate last resort which brought the murder weapon into his home.

"In the first half of October 2009 one of my friends took this pistol to me. He said that it was just an old thing, but that there was something wrong with the bolt and asked me to fix it," Tikhonov told the courtroom, gzt.ru reproted. "I went over the gun, changed the spring on the bolt and was supposed to return the pistol, but I was arrested."

Damned by their own words

Under suspicion and at risk of being arrested Tikhonov tried to persuade Khasis to leave

"I told her that it would be better to get away from me, why end up as a victim of the situation? But she said that my life is her life and that she would stay with me."

They then began to discuss different possibilities and different scenarios. These conversations in their flat were recorded and form one of the lynch pins of the prosecution's case.

Khasis also said she was innocent of involvement in the murders and said that the case against Tikhonov has been trumped up to hide the identity of the real killers.

Love at first sight

"Like me, Khasis has no part in these killings," Tikhonov told the court. "I met Zhenya in spring 2007 in April," he said. They met online, when he ordered sports food through the internet and Khasis took the order.

"For my part at least, I felt something at once. As for her, I don't know," he said as he looked at his girlfriend, clearly embarrassed.

"To start with we communicated online because I didn't have enough money to properly court the girl I liked. But in autumn 2008 we started to meet up and in March 2009 we moved in together," he said.

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