ТОП 10:



On July 25, 2003, in a North Caucasus district military court in Rostov-on-Don, sentence was finally passed on Yury Budanov, a combatant in the first and second Chechen wars and recipient of two Orders of Valor. He was sentenced to ten years in a strict-regime labor camp for crimes committed in Chechnya in the course of the second war. He had abducted a Chechen girl, Elza Kungaeva, and murdered her in an exceptionally brutal manner. The court further resolved to strip Budanov of his rank and state awards.

As noted earlier, the Budanov case began on March 26, 2000, the day Putin was elected president; it continued for more than three years. It became a test for all of us, from the Kremlin down to the smallest villages. We tried to make sense of the soldiers and officers who, every day, had murdered, robbed, tortured, and raped in Chechnya. Were they thugs and war criminals? Or were they unflinching champions in a global war against international terror, using all the weapons at their disposal, a noble aim justifying their despicable means? The Budanov case became highly politicized, turning into a symbol of our time. Among the Russian people, many crucial events that happened in those three years, in Russia and elsewhere, were seen in the light of this case: September 11, 2001, in the United States; the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the creation of an international antiterrorist coalition; terrorist acts in Russia; the seizing of hostages in Moscow in October 2002; the endless succession of Chechen women blowing themselves up; and the Palestinization of the second Chechen war.

This striking, tragic case brought our difficulties into the open. Most important, it revealed the changes that the Russian justice system has experienced under Putin and as a result of the war. The legal reform that the democrats had tried to implement and that Yeltsin had done all he could to promote collapsed under the pressure of the Budanov case; for over three years we were treated to a demonstration of the fact that we did not have an independent judiciary. Instead, the judicial system took its marching orders from the Kremlin. Moreover, we discovered that a majority of the population saw nothing out of the ordinary in this state of affairs. Today’s Russian, brainwashed by propaganda, has largely reverted to Bolshevik thinking.

On July 25, Kungaeva’s parents—who, more than most, understood what was going on—did not even bother to attend the court. They were certain the man who had butchered their daughter would be acquitted.

But then a miracle occurred, both a miracle and a courageous act by Judge Vladimir Bukreev. The judge dared to find Budanov guilty and, furthermore, to sentence him to a far-from-token period of detention. Bukreev thereby set himself against the military establishment, which had been actively working on Budanov’s behalf. The military courts come under the jurisdiction of the armed forces, whose commander in chief is the president. Yet, despite immense pressure from the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense, Bukreev decided that Budanov should receive the sentence he merited. In the process, however, the judge showed beyond a doubt that the judicial system is fully in thrall to the politicians.


The Case


To dispel the myths surrounding the Budanov case, I will quote from the indictment. Despite the dry language of the prosecutor’s office, the following excerpts testify more eloquently to the climate of the second Chechen war than many journalists could. They convey the situation in units deployed in the “Zone of Antiterrorist Operations,” where anarchy rules. Lawlessness was the ultimate cause of the crimes committed by Yury Budanov, colonel of a tank regiment and commander of an elite army unit, a graduate of the military academy who had been awarded the country’s highest honors for his distinguished service.



Indictment in respect of Colonel Yury Dmitrievich Budanov, Army Unit 13206 (160th Tank Regiment), accused…

The preliminary investigation has established that:

Yury Dmitrievich Budanov was appointed on August 31, 1998, to the post of commander of Army Unit 13206 (160th Tank Regiment). On January 31, 2000, Budanov was awarded the military rank of colonel. Ivan Ivanovich Fedorov was awarded the rank of lieutenant colonel on August 12, 1997. On September 16, 1999, Fedorov was appointed to the post of chief of staff and deputy commander of Army Unit 13206 (160th Tank Regiment). On September 19, 1999, on the basis of Order of the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation No. 312/00264, Budanov and Fedorov left as part of Army Unit 13206 for duty in the North Caucasus Military District and were thereafter deployed to the Chechen Republic to engage in a counterterrorist operation. On March 26, 2000, Army Unit 13206 was temporarily deployed on the outskirts of the village of Tangi…. During dinner in the regimental officers’ mess, Budanov and Fedorov imbibed spiritous liquor to celebrate the birthday of Budanov’s daughter. At 19.00 hours that day, Budanov and Fedorov proceeded in a drunken state, together with a group of officers of the regiment and at Fedorov’s suggestion, to the intelligence company of the regiment under the command of Lieutenant R.V. Bagreev.

Having inspected the state of orderliness in the tents…, Fedorov desired to show Budanov that the intelligence company, to whose command Bagreev had been appointed on Fedorov’s recommendation, could be relied upon in a combat situation. He proposed that Budanov check their readiness for action. Budanov at first declined, but Fedorov insisted. After Fedorov had repeated his suggestion several times, Budanov gave permission to test the company’s combat readiness and proceeded with a group of officers to the Signals Center. Permission having been given, Fedorov decided, without telling Budanov, to order the use of regimental armaments to open fire on Tangi. Fedorov’s decision… was taken… without any actual necessity, since no fire was incoming…. Implementing his plan in flagrant violation of the requirement of Order of the General Headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation of February 21, 2000, No. 312/2/0091, which forbids the use of intelligence subsections without thorough preparation…, Fedorov gave orders for firing positions to be taken up…. Obeying orders, Lieutenant Bagreev gave the command to the company’s personnel…. Three combat vehicles took up combat positions. After completing targeting, some members of the crews declined to carry out Fedorov’s order to open fire on a populated position. Continuing to exceed the authority of his rank, Fedorov insisted that they should open fire. Angered by the refusal of his subordinates, Fedorov began complaining to Bagreev. In a coarse manner he demanded that Bagreev should get his subordinates to open fire. Not satisfied with Bagreev’s actions, Fedorov began personally to direct the activity of the company’s personnel…. The crew opened fire… and a house… was destroyed. Having succeeded in getting the company’s personnel to carry out his unlawful order, Fedorov grabbed Bagreev by his clothing and continued to address him in a vulgar manner. Bagreev offered no resistance… and returned to the tent of his subsection.

Budanov… ordered Fedorov to stop firing and report to himself. Fedorov reported that Bagreev had deliberately failed to carry out his order to open fire. Bagreev was summoned to Budanov. Budanov… insulted him and then punched Bagreev at least twice in the face.

At the same time, Budanov and Fedorov ordered the soldiers on guardhouse duty to tie Bagreev up and place him… in a pit…. Budanov then seized Bagreev by his uniform and threw him to the ground. Fedorov booted Bagreev in the face. The soldiers on duty bound Bagreev, who was lying on the ground. Budanov, together with Fedorov, then continued to kick Bagreev….

After this beating, Bagreev was put in the pit, where he was left sitting with his hands and legs tied. Thirty minutes after the beating, Fedorov went back to the pit, jumped in, and punched him in the face at least twice…. This beating was stopped by officers of the regiment…. Several minutes later, Budanov came to the pit. On his orders, Bagreev was pulled out. Seeing that he had succeeded in untying himself, Budanov again ordered the soldiers on duty to tie him up. When this order had been carried out, Budanov and Fedorov again began beating Bagreey…. Bagreev was again put in the pit, bound hand and foot…. Fedorov jumped down and bit him on the right eyebrow. Bagreev was left… until 08.00 hours on March 27, 2000, after which, on Budanov’s orders, he was freed.

At 24.00 hours on March 26, Budanov, acting without instructions from his superiors, decided to go into Tangi personally in order to check out the possible presence, at No. 7 Zarechnaya Street, of members of an IAF. In order to drive to Tangi, Budanov ordered his subordinates to ready armored personnel carrier (APC) No. 391. Before departing, Budanov and the members of the crew armed themselves with standard-issue Kalashnikov-74 assault rifles. At this time, Budanov informed the crew of the APC, namely Sergeants Grigoriev, Yegorov, and Li-En-Shou, that their mission was to arrest a female sniper….

Budanov arrived at Tangi before 01.00 hours…. On his orders, the APC stopped outside No. 7 Zarechnaya Street, where the Kungaeva family lived. Budanov entered the house together with Grigoriev and Li-En-Shou. In the house were Elza Visaevna Kungaeva… along with her four younger brothers and sisters. Their parents were not present. Budanov asked where the parents were. Not receiving an answer, Budanov continued to exceed his authority and in contravention of Federal Law No. 3, “The Struggle Against Terrorism,” Article 13, ordered Li-En-Shou and Grigoriev to seize Elza Visaevna Kungaeva.

Believing themselves to be acting lawfully, Grigoriev and Li-En-Shou seized Kungaeva, wrapped her in a blanket taken from the house, carried her from the house and placed her in the assault compartment of APC No. 391…. Budanov took Kungaeva back to the compound of Army Unit 13 206. On Budanov’s orders, Grigoriev, Yegorov, and Li-En-Shou took Kungaeva, still wrapped in the blanket, to the prefabricated officers’ accommodation which Budanov occupied and placed her on the floor. Budanov then ordered them to remain in the vicinity and not to let anyone through.

Remaining alone with Kungaeva, Budanov began demanding information from her as to the whereabouts of her parents and also information about the routes by which fighters passed through Tangi. when she refused to talk, Budanov, who had no right to interrogate Kungaeva, continued demanding information. Since she refused his demands, Budanov began beating Kungaeva, punching and kicking her many times on her face and different parts of her body. Kungaeva attempted to resist, pushing him away and trying to run out of the accommodation.

As Budanov was convinced that Kungaeva was a member of an IAF and that she had been involved in the deaths of his subordinates in January 2000, he decided to kill her. For this purpose, Budanov seized Kungaeva’s clothing, threw her down on a camp bed, and, clasping the back of her neck, began to squeeze it… until he was sure she no longer showed signs of life….

Budanov’s deliberate actions caused… asphyxia…. Budanov called Grigoriev, Yegorov, and Li-En-Shou into his quarters and ordered them to remove the body and secretly bury it away from the unit. Budanov’s order was obeyed by the crew of APC No. 391. They secretly transported Kungaeva’s body and buried it on one of the forest plantations, as Grigoriev reported back to Budanov on the morning of March 27, 2000.

The accused Budanov and Fedorov, when questioned to respect of the present criminal charges, partly admitted to being guilty of the acts of which they are accused. They changed the testimony they had given at the initial stage of the investigation.


Accused: Yury Dmitrievich Budanov

Questioned as a witness on March 27, 2000, Budanov explained that he had driven to Tangi,… discovered mines in one of the houses, and detained two Chechens…. Budanov asserted that nobody had beaten Bagreev up. While carrying out a check of the combat readiness of the intelligence company… , the company had reacted incorrectly to the command “Attack.” A conflict had arisen. Bagreev had insulted Fedorov…. He had then ordered the arrest of Bagreev. Budanov denied that Fedorov had given orders to fire on Tangi, or that the village had been fired on. At the end of the interrogation, Budanov requested permission to write an admission of guilt regarding his having terminated the life of a female relative of citizens who were members of illegal formations in Chechnya.

Further, in an autograph admission of guilt… , Budanov gave the following information. On March 26, 2000, he had departed for the eastern outskirts of Tangi in order to take out or capture a woman sniper…. When they returned to the unit, the girl was carried to his quarters…. A conflict ensued, as a result of which he tore the girl’s blouse and brassiere. The girl continued trying to escape…. He strangled her…. He did not remove the clothing from the lower part of her body…. Budanov called the crew, ordered them to wrap the body in a blanket, drive with it to a forest plantation in the vicinity of the tank battalion and bury her.

Questioned on March 28, 2000, Budanov testified that on March 3, 2000, he had learned from operational sources that a female sniper was living in Tangi…. He had been shown a photograph of her. This information had been made known to him by an inhabitant of Tangi who had personal scores to settle with the fighters…. Detaining the girl, they returned to the regiment…. He dragged her to a far corner of his quarters, threw her down on the camp bed, and began to strangle her…. The commanding officer of the APC came in with the signaler. The girl was lying in the far corner of his quarters, wearing only her pants…. Budanov had been infuriated that she would not say where her mother was. According to information in his possession, on January 15—20, 2000, her mother had used a sniper’s rifle in the Argun Ravine to kill twelve soldiers and officers.

When questioned on March 30, 2000, Budanov partly admitted his guilt…. Budanov partially changed his testimony about Kungaeva’s conduct, saying that she had told him they would get around to him in the end, and that he and those under his command would never get out of Chechnya alive. She had mouthed obscene remarks about his mother and run to the door. Her last remarks had completely infuriated Budanov…. His pistol lay on a table next to the bed. She had tried to seize the pistol. Throwing her back on the bed, he held Kungaeva by the throat with his right hand and with his left hand held her arm to prevent her from reaching the pistol….

[These gradual changes to Budanov’s testimony occurred because the Kremlin and the military establishment, having recovered from their shock at the unexpected audacity of the prosecutor’s office in allowing itself to arrest a decorated, serving colonel, began to pressure the officials conducting the investigation. As a result, they started coaching Budanov as to what he should say, to minimize the legal consequences and possibly even escape criminal responsibility completely.]

In the course of a further interview…, Budanov gave additional detailed testimony as to how he knew that the Kungaevs were members of an IAF. Information to this effect had been received from one of the Chechens he had encountered in January-February 2000 after the fighting in the Argun Ravine. This Chechen had passed him a photograph which showed Kungaeva holding a Dragunov sniper’s rifle.

Interviewed on January 4, 2001, Budanov testified that he would plead not guilty to abducting Kungaeva. He considered that he had acted properly, given the operational information in his possession…. He had arrested her in order to pass her on to the law-enforcement agencies. He had not done so because he hoped himself to discover from the detainee where fighters were located….

He was also aware that if the fighters learned that Kungaeva had been detained, they would do their utmost to free her. It was for this reason that he decided to return to the regiment immediately…. He did not accept that he was guilty of premeditated murder…. He was in a highly emotional state, and he was at a loss to explain how it came about that he had strangled her.


Accused: Ivan Ivanovich Fedorov

Interviewed on April 3, 2000, as a witness, Fedorov testified that on March 26, 2000, he, Arzumanyan [a comrade in arms], and Budanov went to inspect the intelligence company. Having completed the inspection, he gave Bagreev an interim order: “Command post under attack: Take up firing positions” and indicated the location of the target. He then summoned Bagreev and asked why the combat vehicles had not taken up their firing positions. He could not remember what Bagreev replied…. He then seized Bagreev by his clothing.

[Fedorov] did not remember who gave the order to tie Bagreev’s arms and legs…. He then went up to Bagreev and struck him several times…. On his, Fedorov’s, orders, Bagreev was then put in the pit. He jumped down into the pit in order to tell Bagreev exactly what he thought of him.

He, Fedorov, was pulled out of the pit by Arzumanyan. He learned only the following morning that Budanov had driven to Tangi that night….

On or around March 20, 2000, he saw a photograph Budanov had of a woman who, Budanov told him, was a sniper. According to Budanov, this woman lived in Tangi…. The woman appeared to be not more than 30 years old. On or around March 25, 2000, Budanov drove to Tangi, and a Chechen showed him houses where fighters lived….


Aggrieved Party: Visa Umarovich Kungaev… agronomist of the Urus-Martan Soviet Farm, father of Elza Visaevna Kungaeva

Elza was the eldest child in the family… modest, calm, hardworking, decent, and honest. She had to undertake all the housework, since his wife was ill and not allowed to work. For the same reason, Elza had the responsibility of looking after the younger children. She spent all her free time at home and did not go out. She had no boyfriends. She was awkward with members of the male sex. She had no intimate relations with them. His daughter simply was not a sniper. She was not a member of any armed formation. The suggestion was absurd.

On March 26, 2000, he went, together with his wife and children, to vote in the elections.

They busied themselves about the house. His wife got ready to go and see her brother Alexey in Urus-Martan…. He remained with the children.

They went to bed at about 21.00 hours, since there was no electricity…. At about 00.30 on March 27, he was awakened by the roar of a military vehicle…. He looked out of the window and saw strangers coming toward their house. He called his eldest daughter, Elza, and asked her quickly to rouse all the children, get them dressed, and take them out of the house, telling her that it was being surrounded by soldiers. He, Kungaev, ran outside to find his brother, who lived some 20 meters away.

His brother was already running to see him…. On entering the house, his brother saw Colonel Budanov, whom he recognized because his photograph had been published in the Red Star newspaper.

Budanov asked him, “Who are you?” Adlan replied that he was the brother of the owner of the house. Budanov replied rudely, “Get out of here.” Adlan ran out of the house and began shouting. From what his children told him, Kungaev knew that Budanov then ordered the soldiers to take Elza. She was screaming. Wrapping her in a blanket, they took her outside. His relatives immediately came running and woke everybody to look for his daughter.

He went to the head of the village administration, the military commandant of the village, and the military commandant of Urus-Martan District. At 6 A.M. they drove to Urus-Martan to find his daughter. On the evening of March 27, 2000, they learned that Elza had been murdered. In Kungaev’s opinion, Budanov abducted Elza and then raped her because she was a pretty girl.

Witness A. S. Magamaev testified that he was a neighbor of the Kungaevs. They were a poor family. They worked mainly in the fields. He had known Elza since she was born. She was a shy girl and did not associate with boys her own age. He could say with certainty that Elza had never been a member of any armed formations.

The investigation has been unable to discover any evidence that E. V Kungaeva was associated with or a member of any IAF.


Witness: Ivan Alexandrovich Makarshanov, former private in Army Unit 13 206

On the evening of March 26, 2000, the guardhouse duty squad was called out to an emergency. On the orders of the commanding officer of the regiment, the personnel of the guardhouse duty squad bound the commanding officer of the intelligence company. Bagreev, the commanding officer of the intelligence company, was lying on the ground. Budanov and Fedorov each kicked Bagreev at least three times. Everything happened very quickly. After this, Bagreev was put in a pit, the so-called Zindan.

After a time, when it was already dark, Makarshanov heard shouts and groans and came out of his tent. He saw that Budanov and Fedorov were in the pit where they had put Bagreev. (The tent was about 15-20 meters from the Zindan .) Fedorov was punching Bagreev in the face…. Somebody shone a torch into the pit, so he saw everything clearly. Someone then pulled Fedorov out of the pit.

Until 02.00 hours on March 27, Makarshanov was in Fedorov’s tent, keeping the stove lit. At about 01.00 hours he heard an APC drive up to Budanov’s quarters…. He saw four persons enter Budanov’s accommodation, one of whom was Budanov. One was carrying something on his shoulder, like a roll, its dimensions approximately those of a human body. He, Makarshanov, saw long hair hanging down from one end of the roll….

The person carrying the roll opened the doors, carried the roll inside, and put it on the floor. A light was burning in the accommodation. Accordingly, Makarshanov was able to see Budanov enter. The distance from the place where he was (in the tent) to Budanov’s quarters was some 8-10 meters…. The whole time after Budanov came to his quarters, he had three members of the crew of his APC standing by….


Other Witnesses

Witness Alexander Mikhailovich Saifullin testified that he had served with Army Unit 13 206 from August 1999. From late January 2000 his duties were to act as stoker in Budanov’s quarters. At approximately 05.00—05.15 hours on March 27, he entered the commander’s quarters…. Budanov was lying on the camp bed on the right and not, as usual, on the far one. The rug on the floor had been moved and was rumpled… and he saw that Budanov’s bed was not made up. Budanov was asleep. At about 7 A.M. he entered the quarters and poured the commander a bucket of water to wash himself…. The commander told him to tidy up in the quarters and, indicating the bed with his head, ordered him to change the blanket and all the bed linen. Saifullin set about tidying up and noticed that the blanket was damp…. Budanov gave him an hour to clean the premises from top to bottom. When he took the bed linen from the far camp bed out of Budanov’s quarters, the left corner of the sheet was wet.

Witness Valerii Vasilievich Gerasimov testified that from March 5 until April 20, 2000, he was acting commanding officer of the West Group of Troops. On the morning of March 27, he learned from the commandant of Urus-Martan that a girl had been abducted from Tangi during the night and that it was suspected that soldiers were responsible. He communicated with the commanding officers of three regiments, including Budanov of the 160th Tank Regiment, and ordered that the girl should be returned within 30 minutes. With General Alexander Ivanovich Verbitsky, he himself drove first to the 245th Regiment, then to the 160th Regiment.

In the 160th Regiment he was met personally by Budanov, who reported that everything was in order and that he had been unable to learn anything about the girl. Together with Verbitsky, [Gerasimov] drove to Tangi, where at that moment some villagers were gathered. From the explanation of the father of the girl, it appeared that a colonel had driven into the village during the night with soldiers in an APC, had wrapped the girl in a blanket, and carried her off. They knew this colonel: he was the commanding officer of the tank regiment. At first [Gerasimov] and Verbitsky did not believe this. They returned to the regiment. Budanov was not to be found. Gerasimov ordered that Budanov should be detained.


There is a rule in the Russian armed forces that serving personnel can be arrested only with the permission of their superior officers. For Budanov, only General Gerasimov had this status. Accordingly, we are obliged to Gerasimov for the fact that there ever was a Budanov case. The majority of commanding officers in Chechnya do not give the prosecutor’s office permission to arrest those under their command who have committed war crimes and go to great lengths to protect them. Given the situation in the Zone of Antiterrorist Operations, Gerasimov’s act must be regarded as very courageous. It could well have cost him his career. Perhaps because the affair became a major focus of public attention, the general was not punished. Indeed, Gerasimov was appointed commander of the Fifty-eighth Army, a significant promotion. The indictment continues:


After his arrest, Budanov was taken to Hankala [the main military base in Chechnya]. On that same evening, the driver of the APC who had driven Budanov to the village admitted that on the night of March 27, they had brought a girl back and dragged her into Budanov’s quarters. Some two hours later, Budanov had summoned them. The girl was dead. Budanov had ordered them to take the body and bury it.

On the morning of March 28, the body was exhumed, taken to the Medical and Sanitary Battalion, medically examined, washed, and returned to the parents.

When interviewed as a witness, Igor Vladimirovich Grigoriev testified that on March 27, 2000, when they returned to the unit, Budanov ordered them to carry the girl, wrapped in a blanket, into his quarters and themselves to stand guard…. Budanov remained in his quarters with the girl. Some ten minutes after they had left the quarters, a woman’s cries were heard coming from within, and Budanov’s voice was also heard. Then music was heard coming from the accommodation. A woman’s screams were heard for some time more, coming from the same place.

Budanov was together with the girl in his quarters for between one and a half and two hours. Some two hours later, Budanov called all three of them into his quarters, where the woman they had brought was lying naked on the bed. Her face was a bluish color. The blanket they had wrapped the girl in was spread on the floor. Her clothing was lying on it in a heap. Budanov ordered them to take the woman away and bury her in secret…. Wrapping the body in the blanket, they drove the girl away in APC No. 391 and buried the body. Grigoriev reported this back to Budanov on the morning of March 27.

Interviewed on October 17, 2000, Grigoriev elaborated that ten to twenty minutes after their leaving Budanov’s quarters, Budanov began shouting. What, exactly, he did not hear. There were also several screams from the girl, screams indicative of fear. When, at Budanov’s summons, they entered his quarters, they saw the girl lying naked on the camp bed without signs of life…. The girl had bruises to her neck, as if she had been strangled. Pointing to her, Budanov said with a strange expression on his face, “That’s for you, you bitch, for Razmakhnin and the boys who died up that mountain.”

The examination of Kungaeva’s body revealed… injuries… on the… neck… , the face… , bruising in the right suborbital area, on the inner surface of the right thigh, hemorrhaging into the… mouth and… of the left upper jaw. The corpse was unclothed….

The medical examination of the corpse… established that the injuries discovered on the neck had been caused ante-mortem…. The cause of death was pressure on the neck from a blunt object. The bruising on Kungaeva’s face and left thigh, the hemorrhaging into the… mouth, the injury to the right eye resulted from the action of a blunt object(s)…. The act causing injury was a blow. The injuries referred to occurred ante-mortem….

Interviewed as a witness, Captain Alexey Viktorovich Simukhin, investigator, military prosecutor’s office, testified that on March 27, 2000, he received orders to bring Budanov to the landing strip of Army Unit 13206 in order for the latter to be transported to Hankala.

During the flight Budanov was very agitated, inquiring how he should behave, what he should say, and what he should do. On the morning of March 28, 2000, Simukhin traveled out as a member of the investigating team to… locate the body of Kungaeva…. Simukhin wished to note that the burial site had been very carefully camouflaged, covered with turf…. The body was in a half-sitting “fetal” position and was completely naked.



Aggrieved Party: Lieutenant Roman Vitalievich Bagreev… deputy chief of staff of Tank Battalion, Army Unit 13206

From October 1, 1999, as a member of the 160th Regiment, Bagreev took part in the counterterrorist operation. He had no scores to settle with Budanov and Fedorov.

On March 20, 2000, the intelligence company moved from… Komsomolskoe to… Tangi. It had been decided to hold a competition between the regiment’s subsections to decide which company was the most orderly. The antiaircraft section came in first. Fedorov disagreed with this result and assured everybody that the intelligence company was better…. In order to persuade Budanov of this… , Fedorov insisted an inspection should be carried out of the company’s site.

After 18.00 hours Budanov, Fedorov, Silivanets, and Arzumanyan arrived at the site. Budanov was intoxicated but entirely able to control himself. Fedorov was very drunk, his speech was slurred, and he was unsteady on his feet. Fedorov tried to persuade Budanov to check the combat readiness of the company. Budanov refused three or more times but Fedorov continued to insist. Budanov yielded to Fedorov’s demands, ordering, “Firing positions. Prepare for combat.”

Bagreev immediately ran toward the company’s trenches. Fedorov ran behind him. The vehicles took up their firing positions. Budanov was at the Signals Center. He knew that each vehicle always had a high-explosive fragmentation shell in its rammer tray ready for firing. There were no grounds to open fire on the village at the time, other than Fedorov’s order.

After the vehicles’ gun crews had taken up their positions, he gave orders to the crews to unload the fragmentation shell, load a hollow-charge shell, and fire it over the houses. Such a shell, shot upward, if encountering no obstacle, self-destructs. A fragmentation charge has no such self-destruction mechanism….

Vehicle No. 380 fired once over the roofs of the houses in the village. Fedorov saw this, leapt on to the second APC, and ordered the gun layer to fire at Tangi. Dissatisfied with Bagreev’s actions, Fedorov seized him by his clothing and abused him with obscene language. Bagreev was summoned by Budanov. When he arrived at the Signals Center, Budanov and Fedorov were both there. They beat him up.

Inspection has established that to the southwest of the staff headquarters of Army Unit 13206, at a distance of 25 meters from the regimental command post on March 27, 2000, there was a pit above which three square-edged planks had been placed. The pit was a hollow in the ground 2.4 meters long, 1.6 meters wide, and 1.3 meters deep. The walls were faced with brick, and the bottom was earthen.

[Thus the first description in a Russian legal document of a Zindan . These special torture pits were introduced on an extensive scale during the second Chechen war. They are to be found in almost every military unit in Chechnya and are generally used for detaining arrested Chechens, as well as privates who are in disgrace. It is rare for them to be used against junior officers.]

Witness Private Dmitry Igorevich Pakhomov testified that on March 26, 2000, at about 20.00 hours, Fedorov shouted at Bagreev, “I’ll teach you to carry out my orders, you puppy.” Bagreev was deluged with insults…. Fedorov gave the order to tie Bagreev up and put him in the pit. There had been earlier occasions when the squad had tied up drunken contract soldiers before putting them in the pit, but for such a thing to be done to the commanding officer of the intelligence company was unbelievable.

Approximately one hour later, the squad was again alerted to an emergency by Budanov. When they arrived, Bagreev was lying on the ground. Budanov and Fedorov once more started kicking him. After this, on Budanov’s orders, Bagreev was again tied up and put in the pit. Fedorov then jumped down and began beating Bagreev up in the pit. Bagreev was shouting and groaning…. Silivanets jumped down into the pit and pulled Fedorov out. At about 02.00 hours Pakhomov was in his tent when he heard rifle fire. As he later learned, this was Suslov shooting in order to bring Fedorov to his senses. He was again trying to reach Bagreev.


Budanov and Fedorov were charged. The criminal case against Grigoriev, Li-En-Shou, and Yegorov was closed as the result of an amnesty.

The expert conclusion of the Standing Interdepartmental Forensic Psychological and Psychiatric Board was that Budanov was not, at the time of the act with which he was charged in respect to Bagreev, in a transitory pathological state of dysfunction or in a state of pathological or physiological incapacity. At the time of the murder of Kungaeva, Budanov was in a transitory, situationally induced, cumulative psychoemotional state and was not fully aware of the nature and significance of his acts or able to use his free will to control them.


The Trial


In the summer of 2001, Budanov’s case moved to trial. The first judge was Colonel Victor Kostin of the district military court of the North Caucasus, in Rostov-on-Don, in the same location as the North Caucasus Military District staff headquarters, which, as Russians say, is “fighting the war in Chechnya.” The influence of the military on every aspect of life in Rostov-on-Don is enormous. The main military hospital, through which thousands of soldiers crippled and wounded in Chechnya have passed, is located there, and the city is home to the families of many officers posted to Chechnya. In a sense this is a frontline city, and this circumstance had a significant impact on the development of the Budanov trial. Pickets and demonstrations outside the courtroom, in support of Budanov, provided the trial with a running commentary, with slogans like “Russia in the Dock!” and “Free Russia’s Hero!”

The first phase of the hearings lasted for more than a year, from the summer of 2001 until October 2002. The purpose of the proceedings seemed not to be to decide whether Budanov was guilty or not but to absolve him of all sins and crimes. Throughout the hearings, Judge Kostin displayed manifest support for Budanov, turning down all representations on behalf of the Kungaevs and finding reasons to refuse to admit any witness who might speak against Budanov. He even refused to question Generals Gerasimov and Verbitsky, on the grounds that they had given permission to arrest the murderous colonel.

During this time, the prosecutor, too, appeared openly on the side of the accused, effectively acting as his defense lawyer, although his duty was to act on behalf of the victims.

The situation inside the courtroom was mirrored by the situation outside it. Public opinion was generally on Budanov’s side. There were meetings outside the court with red Communist flags, and flowers for Budanov as he was being led into the building. The top brass at the Ministry of Defense joined in, with public pronouncements by Minister Sergey Ivanov to the effect that Budanov was “quite clearly not guilty.”

The ideological basis for absolving Budanov was that, although he had committed a crime, it was a crime he had a right to commit. His treatment of Elza Kungaeva was justified on the basis that he was taking revenge on an enemy in war, because he believed the girl to be a sniper responsible for the death of officers.

The Kungaev family had major problems with lawyers from the beginning. The family was very poor, had many children, and no work, and was obliged to move to a tent in a refugee camp in the neighboring Republic of Ingushetia after their daughter’s tragic death. Family members were afraid of reprisals from the army for having gone to court (they were threatened on more than one occasion). As a result, they found themselves without a lawyer. At this point, the Memorial Civil Rights Center, based in Moscow, with a branch in Rostov-on-Don, found them attorneys and, for a long time, covered their fees.

The first lawyer who thus became involved in the case was Abdullah Hamzaev, an elderly Chechen who had been living in Moscow for many years and who was, moreover, a distant relative of the Kungaevs.[6] It must be said that his efforts were not effective; rather, the reverse was true—not because of any fault of Hamzaev’s but because Russian society is becoming increasingly racist. It does not trust people from the Caucasus, let alone from Chechnya. The press conferences Hamzaev called in Moscow, to describe how difficult it was to move matters forward in the military court in Rostov-on-Don, went nowhere. Journalists did not believe what he said, and, accordingly, no public campaign in defense of the Kungaevs was mounted. And a public outcry was, of course, the family’s only hope of making any headway.

The Memorial Civil Rights Center invited a young Moscow lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, to assist Hamzaev. Markelov was a member of the same Interrepublican College of Lawyers to which Budanov’s attorneys belonged. The major cases Markelov had defended before and that had attracted Memorial’s attention were the first in Russia to involve accusations of terrorism and political extremism: the blowing up of memorials to Emperor Nicholas II in the vicinity of Moscow, an attempt to blow up the monument to Peter the Great, and the murder of Russian citizens of Afghan descent by skinheads.

Markelov was Russian, and, at the time, his background was crucial. Memorial had made a good selection, because subsequently it was his energy, choice of tactics, and ability to communicate with the press that focused attention on the trial. Here is a summary of what Markelov himself has to say about what he saw in the court just after taking on the case. At this point, the trial was effectively occurring in camera, and journalists were banned:

“The court was in a great rush. It did not want to go into the details of any of our requests and rejected anything that could be interpreted to be against Budanov…. All our petitions, for example, to call witnesses, to call in experts, to have independent examinations, were rejected. I had the impression that Judge Kostin was not even reading them. We discovered that one of the informers who supposedly pointed out the Kungaevs’ house was a deaf mute, physically incapable of hearing Budanov’s question about the female sniper… and physically incapable of replying. The second informer was in fact photographed talking to Budanov one day earlier than alleged. Thus Budanov’s spontaneous reactions, feelings that overwhelmed the colonel and justified his behavior, are no longer valid. Witnesses also testified that on both March 25 and until midday on March 26, when the officers in the regiment began the binge drinking Budanov had organized in honor of his daughter’s birthday, the colonel was calm and showed no intention of taking revenge on some female sniper.”

The second informer turned out to be Ramzan Sembiev, a convict serving in a maximum security labor camp for kidnapping. What matters here is that there should have been no difficulty at all in bringing him to the court for cross-examination.

“The court’s approach to the case was ideological. The Kremlin was applying pressure for Budanov to be absolved of his sins. Nothing was important or relevant if it could be to Budanov’s disadvantage. The prosecutor’s office decided not to behave in… accordance with its role as defined by the Constitution….

“During Nazarov’s speech to the court, a number of other inexplicable things came out. For example, a prosecutor in Dagestan was said to have approached Sembiev in the labor camp after our application and to have asked whether he knew Budanov. Sembiev reputedly denied it and said the first time he had seen him was on television.”

“Was this conversation forwarded to the court as an official document?”

“No, of course not…”

Following in Budanov’s footsteps, the court decided to apply customary law instead. Budanov had acted entirely in accordance with Chechen customary law: he considered the murder he committed to be retribution. The court, and Russian society, supported him in this. What the case shows is that the authorities in Russia, and the state as a whole, accept that Russian law is in abeyance in Chechnya.


Playing Games with Psychiatric Reports


One of the main features of the Budanov case was the games played with the forensic psychological and psychiatric reports.

During the three years the case ran, the colonel had the benefit of four psychiatric reports and, when the initial verdict was set aside, of a further two. The conclusions of nearly all these documents were politically slanted and supported whatever the current Kremlin line happened to be.

The first two reports were compiled in the aftermath of the crimes, in May and August 2000, during the preliminary investigation. The first examination was carried out by the psychiatrists of the military hospital of the North Caucasus Military District and the Central North Caucasus Forensic Laboratory of the Ministry of Justice of Russia. The second investigation was produced by doctors of the civilian Novocherkassk Provincial Psychoneurological Hospital. According to these reports, Budanov was responsible for his actions—that is, he was answerable for his crimes. The documents were released during a period when Putin was talking a great deal about the “dictatorship of law,” which needed to be established in Russia. Under this doctrine, soldiers who committed crimes in Chechnya would be punished in exactly the same way as Chechen fighters who were members of IAFs.

Moreover, it was a time of courting the Chechens after the fierce assaults of 1999—2000 and the appointment of a new head of administration of the republic, Ahmad-Hadji Kadyrov. He had been one of the fighters and the mufti, or interpreter of Muslim law, for Djohar Dudaev, the first president of Chechnya, who had been assassinated in 1996 by a smart missile targeted by federal officers. Having earlier declared jihad on Russia, Kadyrov had subsequently become a friend of the Kremlin after “fully appreciating the situation.”

These two reports noted, however, that when Elza Kungaeva was strangled, Budanov was probably mentally unbalanced, and that he appeared to be exhibiting symptoms of brain damage resulting in a “personality and behavioral disorder.”

The Ministry of Defense took exception to these conclusions because they had two serious implications. One was that since Budanov was in his right mind at all other times, he could be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. The other was that the army was employing people with brain damage that nobody bothered to assess, that such people were fighting in battles, and that people with personality disorders had command of hundreds of individuals and had cutting-edge weapons at their disposal.

It soon became clear, when the trial began, that the psychiatrists’ conclusions did not suit Judge Kostin either. As a military judge, employed by the Ministry of Defense, Kostin was beholden to the military establishment for his living accommodations, salary, and any prospects of promotion. So Judge Kostin’s apartment and pay would have to come from the same headquarters to which the accused, Colonel Budanov, was subordinate. Also, by the time Budanov came to trial, political circumstances in Russia had begun to change. The Kremlin had gradually stopped playing at democracy and worrying about the “dictatorship of law.” In consequence, all those who had fought in Chechnya were declared heroes, irrespective of what they had done there. The president began dishing out medals and orders right, left, and center, assuring those involved in the war that the state would never betray them. These highly charged words meant that the government intended to be lenient toward those guilty of war crimes in Chechnya, to the point of forgiving the most sordid offenses, and that any prosecutor trying to bring criminal proceedings against federal military personnel should pipe down.

Stories from the state-controlled television channels explained how scrupulously Budanov had fulfilled his duty, and General Shamanov was continually in evidence making patriotic speeches in praise of his comrade in arms. The claim that the eighteen-year-old Chechen girl whom the colonel had murdered was a sniper was no longer subject to doubt. Nobody now recalled that neither the investigation nor Budanov’s counsel had been able to find a shred of evidence to suggest that Elza Kungaeva had had anything to do with IAFs.

The politically inspired brainwashing of the Russian population was going full tilt, paving the way for Budanov’s acquittal.

At this very moment, the court in Rostov-on-Don, stricken by doubt as to the competence of the experts who had carried out the first two psychiatric reports, commissioned a new one. This time it was a joint military and civilian enterprise, in Moscow, moreover, uniting the efforts of the Central Forensic Medical Laboratory of the Ministry of Defense and the Serbsky State Research Center for Social and Forensic Psychiatry, popularly known as the Serbsky Institute.

The Serbsky’s reputation in Russia dates from Soviet times, when dissidents would be certified insane. The doctors of the Serbsky Institute were invariably conscientious in carrying out the tasks they were allotted by the KGB. It was to the Serbsky Institute that Budanov was sent. When the decision became common knowledge, there were few doubts as to why the state research center had been chosen. Everything possible was being done to free Budanov of criminal responsibility, his supporters—and his opponents—said.

The official reasons for commissioning a third report were given by the court as “imprecision, contradictoriness and factual incompleteness”; in addition, “new and more accurate data” had appeared that were important for “determining Budanov’s true mental state.”

No matter that a series of episodes described to the new commission had never happened. Because the information favored the colonel, it was put before the experts, who then treated it as incontrovertible.

Not to mince words, this was blatant falsification and the Serbsky experts’ response was tailored to produce the requisite image of a hero.


According to Budanov, his was a difficult birth…. According to the testimony of his mother and sister, he was vulnerable and liable to flare up in response to a slight. He would respond coarsely or start a fight. He was particularly sensitive toward unfair remarks and in such cases always tried to defend the weak, those smaller than himself, and the poor….

Budanov’s service references show him in an exceptionally favorable light. He was disciplined, effective and tenacious. In January 1995, during the first military campaign in Chechnya, while taking part in combat operations, Budanov suffered a concussion, losing consciousness for a short time. He did not seek medical attention. According to his mother and sister, after he returned from the first Chechen war, Budanov’s personality and behavior changed. He became more nervous and irritable…. In his subsections Budanov created a spirit of intolerance of shortcomings and passivity. He had a highly developed sense of responsibility….

None of his comrades has noticed mental aberrations in Budanov. He has never been under the observation of a psychiatrist or neuropathologist.

Budanov testifies that when his regiment arrived in Chechnya… , it was involved almost constantly in combat operations. In October and again in November 1999, Budanov suffered a concussion with loss of consciousness. After this he began to suffer incessantly from headaches and dizziness with loss of vision. He became unable to tolerate sudden loud noises, became liable to flare up, lacking in restraint and irritable. He suffered mood swings, with outbursts of rage. He committed acts which he later regretted.

Budanov testifies that the most severe fighting was in the Argun Ravine from December 24, 1999, to February 14, 2000. From January 12 to 21, the regiment lost nine officers and three other ranks. Many of these were killed, Budanov testifies, by a shot to the head from a sniper. On January 17, 2000, Budanov’s comrade Captain Razmakhnin died at the hands of a sniper….

Budanov was extremely upset by the fact that the majority of officers in his regiment had died not in open battle but at the hands of a sniper. He said he would return home only after they had “wiped out the last fighter.”

On February 15, without completing his leave, Budanov returned to Chechnya. His mother and sister testify that Budanov looked in on them… and had changed beyond recognition. He smoked constantly, hardly spoke and “flew into a rage over nothing at all.” He could not sit still. Showing photographs of those who had died and of their graves, he wept. They had not seen him in such a state before.

Budanov led attacks himself, his rifle in his hands, and took part in man-to-man combat. After the battles in the Argun Ravine, he tried personally to retrieve the bodies of those who had died. After the death of officers and soldiers of the regiment on Hill 950, Budanov blamed himself and was in a state of constant depression. He might strike subordinates or hurl ashtrays at them. In mid-March 2000, having demanded that his tent should be tidied, he threw a grenade into the stove….

From mid-February 2000, the regiment was deployed in the vicinity of Tangi. Budanov was ordered to carry out intelligence and search measures, lay ambushes, carry out supplementary passport checks of the inhabitants of the village, and detain suspects.

Budanov and those under his command commented that at that time the situation was very confused, and it was impossible to tell friend from foe or where the front line was….


The report continued with a highly variant account of events on the night of March 26 and concluded by noting, “When questioned,… Budanov explained the contradictions in his statements by saying that he had been in a very bad state.

“On the basis of the above, the commission has come to the conclusion that Budanov was not responsible for his actions, on the grounds of diminished responsibility…. The acts of the victim, Kungaeva, were one of the factors causing Budanov’s temporary mental breakdown…. There is no conclusive evidence regarding Budanov’s being in a state of intoxication….

“Budanov… should be kept under observation and treated by a psychiatrist on an outpatient basis. Category C: Partially fit for military service.”

The commission’s conclusions gave the judge all the ammunition he needed under Russian law to do the bidding of his political masters and acquit the colonel. Just as in Soviet times, what the experts report to the courts depends not on the facts but on who is presenting them. Among the cast of characters who provided the psychological and psychiatric grounds for exculpating Budanov was Professor Tamara Pechernikova, doctor of medical science (commission chairman), director of the Consultancy Section of the Serbsky Institute, a doctor with an international reputation, a psychiatric consultant of the highest standing, with fifty years of consultancy experience. This choice was far from random, I believe, because in Russia such appointments do not just happen. This is the way things were done in Soviet times. The worst of Communism is with us again; in Putin’s era the appalling practice of political-psychiatry-to-order has returned.

On August 25, 1968, a famous demonstration took place in Red Square, Moscow. Seven people entered the square and unfurled banners reading FOR OUR AND YOUR FREEDOM! and SHAME ON THE OCCUPIERS! One of the seven was Natalia Gorbanevskaya, a poet, journalist, and dissident who, on this occasion, was pushing a pram with her baby in it. In a country where nobody had protested for a long time, people were stepping forward who had it in them to protest the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The demonstration of the Seven lasted only a few minutes before they were seized by the plainclothes KGB agents who constantly patrolled Red Square. A court subsequently sentenced two of them to terms in labor camps, sent one to a psychiatric hospital, and three into exile. Gorbanevskaya was at first released, since she was breast-feeding her baby.

Some time later, she was rearrested for continuing civil-rights activism. It was then that Tamara Pechernikova made her mark. It was she who, at the behest of the KGB, interrogated Gorbanevskaya in the same Serbsky Institute where, three decades later, Budanov was examined.

Pechernikova produced the medical verdict on Gorbanevskaya the KGB required: “schizophrenia”—which is to say that anyone displaying a banner in Red Square, protesting Russian tanks in the streets of Prague, must have been insane. Pechernikova also supplied the KGB its diagnosis that Gorbanevskaya was a danger to society and should be subjected indefinitely to compulsory treatment in a specialized psychiatric hospital.

Natalia Gorbanevskaya, the founder and first editor of the underground Chronicle of Current Events, a samizdat bulletin of Soviet civil-rights activists, was to spend grim years of incarceration in the Kazan Specialized Mental Hospital. Imprisoned there from 1969 until 1972, she emigrated with an Israeli visa in 1975. She now lives in France.

The Gorbanevskaya case was among the first of the psychiatric repressions against dissidents in the Soviet Union. The 1970s, an era when the Communist regime fought a war of attrition against dissidents, was a heyday for Colonel Budanov’s would-be savior. To understand what is happening in Russia now, we need to be aware not only of the revival of political psychiatry, with diagnoses to order, but also of the way it functions.

In the files of almost all of Pechernikova’s cases, from Gorbanevskaya and well-known Soviet dissident Alexander Ginzburg to Budanov, we find the leitmotif of the search for social justice. Today these words are used in an entirely different context, however. In the Soviet era, Pechernikova regarded evidence of a search for social justice as a symptom of mental illness dangerous to society. Today she considers a brutal murder to be justified by the murderer’s search for social justice. The colonel was overwhelmed by feelings of guilt over the death of his comrades at the hands of a sniper. As a result—understandably, according to Pechernikova—he killed a woman.

Can it be mere chance that Pechernikova figured in the cases of Ginzburg, Gorbanevskaya, and Budanov?

For the past three decades, the KGB/FSB has known that Pechernikova could be relied upon. She bided her time in the shadows during the “late democratic” period of Mikhail Gorbachev and under Boris Yeltsin, but then a KGB officer with a twenty-year service record became president. In the wake of Putin’s rise to power, every nook and cranny in the power structure was filled by people who had been employed by the KGB.

Information from independent sources (not surprisingly, there is none from official ones) suggests that more than six thousand ex-KGB /FSB people followed Putin to power and now occupy the highest offices. These include the key ministries, in which they hold the most important positions: the president’s office (two deputy directors, the heads of the staffing and information departments); the Security Council (deputy secretary); the government administrative apparatus; the ministries of defense, foreign affairs, justice, the nuclear industry, taxes and revenues, internal affairs, press affairs, television, radio and mass media; the State Customs and Excise Committee; the Russian Agency for National Reserves; the Committee for Financial Recovery—and so on.

Like cancer, bad history tends to recur, and there is only one radical treatment: invasive therapy to destroy the deadly cells. We have not done this. We dragged ourselves out of the Soviet Union and into the New Russia still infected with our Soviet disease. To return to our central question: Is the resurrection of Professor Pechernikova in the Budanov case a coincidence? Well, is the return to power of the secret police a coincidence?

It is not. Back in 2000, people were saying, “What if Putin did start out in the KGB in the Soviet period? He’ll shape up once he is in office.”

By then it was already too late. Now we find ourselves surrounded by people trusted by Putin and Putin’s friends. Unfortunately, they trust only their own kind. The result is that the power structures of the New Russia are overrun with citizens from a particular tradition, brought up with a repressive mentality and with an understanding of how to resolve governmental problems that reflects this mentality.

Pechernikova both embodies that tradition and is a mechanism for perpetuating it. In the two decades she spent patriotically, as she would see it, defending the Soviet social and state system, she put in place a mechanism for controlling medical science, molding psychiatry to fit the needs of the state security apparatus. Now, more than a decade after the fall of the visible structures of the Soviet system, she has found herself and her special skills in as much demand as ever.

These are not abstractions of political theory. Pechernikova’s contribution to the Budanov case had life-and-death consequences for real people, just as it did in the 1970s and 1980s. Whether Budanov did or did not go free was a matter of fundamental importance, not least for the army, which, in Chechnya, has become an instrument of repression. The army was waiting for a precedent from the court in Rostov-on-Don. Could the military continue to behave like Budanov?

Pechernikova, who effectively said, “Go right ahead,” provided crucial ammunition to enable Judge Kostin also to say, in law, “Go right ahead.”

Their signals were certainly interpreted that way in Chechnya, where officers picked up exactly where Budanov had left off. We could cite enough examples to fill another book.


MORE THAN A year passed. The Budanov case files were augmented by three additional expert reports. Pechernikova’s conclusions were rejected as untenable. The Supreme Court sent the case back for a retrial, and a newly appointed military court in Rostov-on-Don commissioned new reports. The prosecutor, who had effectively defended the accused, was removed from the scene, and social justice began to emerge from behind the clouds.

And Pechernikova? Was she reprimanded? No chance—she was left in place.


LET US TURN now to the evidence Pechernikova did not address: the subterranean foundation of the Budanov case.

On the last night of her young life, Elza Kungaeva was not only strangled but also raped. From the forensic report:


The burial site is a plot in the forest plantation 950 meters from the command post of the tank regiment. The body of a naked woman is discovered wrapped in a tartan blanket.

The body is lying on its left side, the legs pressed to the stomach, the arms bent at the elbows and pressed to the trunk. The perineum in the region of the external genital organs is smeared with blood, and the blanket in this place is also bloodstained.

A forensic investigation of Kungaeva’s body was carried out on March 28, 2000,… by Captain V. Lyanenko, director of the Medical Section, 124th Laboratory Medical Corps. On the external genital organs, on the surface skin of the perineum and on the rear surface of the upper third of the thigh, are moist smears of a dark-red color resembling blood and mucus…. On the hymen there are bruised radial linear tears. In the buttock crease there are dried traces of a red-dark-brown color. Two cm from the anal aperture there is a tear of the mucous membrane…. The tear is filled with coagulated blood, which indicates it occurred antemortem. On the side of the blanket turned toward the corpse, there is a damp patch of dark-brown color resembling that of blood….

Together with the body there were recovered: 1. Blouse, woolen. Back torn (cut) vertically the full length… 5. Underpants, worn. Removal of specimens for forensic examination not undertaken in view of the lack of suitable conditions for preserving and conserving them….

The tears in the hymen and mucous membrane of the rectum… resulted from the insertion of a blunt, hard object (objects)…. It is possible that such object might have been an engorged (erect) penis. It could, however, have been the haft of a small entrenching tool….


From the very beginning of the investigation Budanov had categorically denied rape. But someone had clearly violated Elza Kungaeva before she was murdered. Since during the last hours of Elza’s life Budanov was alone with her, and since he allowed his soldiers to enter his quarters only after she was dead, one conclusion seems inescapable.

Two forensic analyses were performed during the preliminary investigation. When the court set about its whitewash of Budanov, it commissioned a third report for the same purpose as the new psychiatric report commissioned from the Serbsky Institute: to deliver the conclusions the military establishment and the Kremlin wanted to hear, and to avoid having an officer awarded two Orders of Valor shown to be a rapist.

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