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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 September, 2004, 18:07 GMT 19:07 UK
Killer colonel drops pardon bid
Yuri Budanov
Budanov was convicted last year
A Russian ex-colonel who was jailed for strangling a Chechen girl to death has dropped his request for a pardon.

Yuri Budanov was the first Russian officer to be prosecuted for a crime against a civilian in Chechnya and he was jailed for 10 years in 2003.

Last week a regional amnesty commission recommended that he be pardoned, but Budanov retracted his request after it sparked intense opposition.

Mr Budanov's lawyer said he might re-apply for a pardon at a later date.


Earlier on Tuesday, hundreds of Chechen demonstrators marched through the Chechen capital, Grozny.

The actual crime perpetrated by Budanov is very serious... issuing a pardon would have been very premature
Chechen President, Alu Alkhanov
The protesters said that a pardon would raise doubts about the existence of any justice in the Russian legal system.

Leading political figures in Chechnya had earlier described the decision as an insult to the Chechen people.

Budanov's decision to withdraw his request for a pardon was welcomed by Chechnya's recently-elected president, Alu Alkhanov.

"The actual crime perpetrated by Budanov is very serious, and today, when issues linked to human rights in the Chechen republic are extremely tense, issuing a pardon would have been very premature," he told Moscow Echo radio.

Spotlight on human rights

Budanov was convicted in July 2003 for strangling Elsa Kungayeva, 18.

The colonel admitted in court to killing her in a fit of rage during interrogation, but he argued he was temporarily insane at the time of the crime.

He said he was convinced she was a Chechen rebel sniper.

The Budanov case has been widely seen as a test of Moscow's determination to crack down on human rights abuses by Russian troops in Chechnya.

The final decision whether or not to grant a pardon would have rested with President Vladimir Putin.

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Profile: Chechnya
30 Apr 03  |  Country profiles

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