Source: Glasnost Defense Foundation, Moscow
**Updates IFEX alerts dated 14 May 1996; 30 November,
5 October, 29 August, 23 and 20 June 1995**
On 16 July 1996, Sergei Fedotov,the soldier accused of killing
Russian journalist Natalya Alyakina, was handed a suspended
sentence of two years for "involuntary manslaughter through
negligent use of firearms" by a military judge in the southern
Russian city of Lermontov, in Stavropol Territory. Gisbert Mrozek,
Alyakina's widower and an eyewitness to her death, lodged an
appeal on 16 July with the Northern Caucasus Military Prosecutor
urging a retrial. Mrozek, a correspondent of the German radio news
service RUFA, has repeatedly protested to Russian officials about
the inept handling of evidence and the refusal to call witnesses
with an alternative version of events.
Alyakina, a freelancer for RUFA and the weekly magazine "Fokus",
was shot dead on 17 June 1995 just minutes after being waved past
a Russian checkpoint guarded by Interior Ministry troops outside
the city of Budyonnovsk, at the height of the Chechen rebels'
hostage-taking crisis (see IFEX alerts).
In May, Mrozek told CPJ that in 1995, information released to him
and a colleague by Yeltsin's press secretary, Sergei Medvedev,
indicated that a different soldier may have been the perpetrator,
or that two soldiers may have been implicated. In 1995, both
President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
promised to become personally involved in the case, but have made
no further comments in recent months.
"The Moscow Times" and Interfax reported on 12 July that Fedotov
claimed in court that he had accidentally triggered a heavy
machine-gun with his foot as he entered an armoured personnel
carrier, firing the two shots that killed Alyakina. The prosecutor
demanded that Fedotov be acquitted, stating that Fedotov could not
have known the safety catch was off, and blamed the accident on a
design fault in the armoured personnel carrier.