Democratic Russia, including its organizational structure, leadership and current address (April 2002); reports that Democratic Russia is targeted by the current government and the Special Detachment Riot Police (OMON); investigation into the November 1998 killing of Galina Starovoitova, the former leader of Democratic Russia; reports of the killing of Alexander Kovalyov, a member of Democratic Russia [RUS38876.E]

Europa World Yearbook 2001 describes the Democratic Russia Movement as an "alliance of democratic parties," which is a member or an affiliate of Russia's Democratic Choice Party, a political party reconstituted in 1994 and led by Yegor Gaidar (2001, 3326). Founded in 1990, the Movement has three co-chairs, namely Gleb Yakunin, Lev Ponomarev and Yulii Rybakov, and has approximately 150,000 members (ibid.). Its address is Okhotnyi ryad 1, Moscow (ibid.).

The news agency Interfax reports that Alexei Simonov, one of the leaders of Democratic Russia, participated in the All-Russia Democratic Conference on 4 February 2002 (4 Feb. 2002). Alexei Simonov was among the signatories of a statement protesting the closure of TV6, "Russia's last independent TV channel" (ibid.). Other signatories include Grigory Yavlinsky, the leader of Yabloko, Boris Nemtsov, the leader of the Union of Right Forces, and Mikhail Gorbachev, the leader of the United Social-Democratic Party (ibid.).

There are conflicting references to Ruslan Linkov among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. He is described as the "leader-coordinator" of the Democratic Russia Party (Interfax 23 Dec. 2001), the "administrator" of the Democratic Russia Party (RFE/RL 9 Nov. 2001) and the leader of the St. Petersburg branch of Democratic Russia (ibid. 19 June 2001).

On 3 December 2001, Democratic Russia took part in the second meeting of the All-Russia Democratic Council, which gathered about 22 political parties, such as the Yabloko Party and the Union of Right Forces, to discuss the court reform (ITAR-TASS 3 Dec. 2001). Initiated by Grigory Yavlinsky, the council held its first meeting on 19 June 2001 (ibid.).

In May 2001, Moskovsky Komsomolets reported that Democratic Russia had announced its disbandment (RusData Dialine 21 May 2001). However, a 16 June 2001 report by the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta cited by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) quoted Ruslan Linkov as saying that "rumors about the death of Democratic Russia are clearly exaggerated" (19 June 2001). The report also indicates that Democratic Russia intended to register in fall 2001 (ibid.).

No reports that Democratic Russia is targeted by the current government and the Special Detachment Riot Police (OMON) could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In its section on Russia, the Amnesty International Annual Report 2001 includes Galina Starovoitova's killing in the category of "politically motivated killings."

According to reports of unnamed Russian news agencies cited by RFE/RL, the Main Criminal Police Department of the Interior Ministry has issued national and international arrest warrants for the individuals whom they think killed Galina Starovoitova on 20 November 1998 (28 Feb. 2002). Yurii Korolev, the deputy chief of the department, indicated that the identified perpetrators were living outside Russia (ibid.). On 20 November 2001, Ekho Moskvy, quoted by RFE/RL, reported that the Prosecutor-General's Office had again extended its investigation until 20 May 2002 (23 Nov. 2001).

Commenting on the investigation, Ruslan Linkov, Starovoitova's former aide, dismissed current efforts by the authorities and claimed that Gennadii Seleznev, the chair of the federal lower chamber of parliament (Duma), and Vladimir Yakovlev, the governor of St. Petersburg, had been involved in Starovoitova's killing (ibid. 28 Feb. 2002). However, Ruslan Linkov felt, following conversations with members of "special services," that there was a lack of "political will or agreement from above" to orient the investigation towards the Duma chair and the governor (ibid.). Earlier, Linkov had explained the lack of breakthrough in the investigation by the fact that "some of the people close to the investigation into her murder are most likely linked to it" (Sunday Times 9 Dec. 2001).

According to Sunday Times, the federal security service (FSB) did not respond to Starovoitova's relatives' requests to have access to the results of their investigation (9 Dec. 2001). As a result, the relatives announced that they would petition a court to force the FSB to give them access to the files of the investigation. The relatives also claimed that the St. Petersburg branch of the FSB was protecting political figures allegedly behind the killing (ibid.). In three years of investigation, the FSB had interviewed more than 1,000 individuals, carried out 34 searches, and analyzed hundreds of documents and fingerprints, but have proven unable to identify perpetrators (ibid.).

Several sources make references to the arrests of a number of individuals thought to be involved in the killing, such as Yurii Shutov, a former "legislator" in St. Petersburg (RFE/RL 2 Oct. 2001), a group of five contract killers in Ukraine (AFP 16 May 2001), and Larisa Plaskova (AI 2001). However, their involvement could not be proven or confirmed by the investigators (ibid. 2 Oct. 2001; AFP 16 May 2001; AI 2001). On 18 February 2002, Yurii Biryuchenko and Viktor Kudryashov, two Russian citizens suspected of several crimes, including the killing of Galina Starovoitova, were extradited from the Czech Republic to Russia (RFE/RL 28 Feb. 2002). However, Aleksandr Smirnov, the chief of St. Petersburg police, was quoted by RIA-Novosti, a Russian news agency, as saying that the two men had nothing to do with Starovoitova's killing (CTK 15 Feb. 2002).

No reports of the killing of Alexander Kovalyov, a member of Democratic Russia, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Agence France Presse (AFP). 16 May 2001. "Cinq tueurs à gages présumés arrêtés en Ukraine." (

Amnesty International (AI). 2001. Annual Report 2001. "Russian Federation." [Accessed 22 Apr. 2002]

CTK [Prague]. 15 February 2002. "Russia Wants Men Involved in Starovoytova's Death Extradited." (Financial Times Information 2002/LEXIS)

The Europa World Year Book 2001. 2001. 42nd ed. Vol. II. London: Europa Publications.

Interfax [Moscow, in English]. 4 February 2002. "Russia: Conference Protests Closure of TV6." (FBIS-SOV-2002-0204 4 Feb. 2002/WNC)

_____. 23 December 2001. "December 24 to 30 in Moscow, Russia and Newly Independent States." (LEXIS)

ITAR-TASS. 3 December 2001. Lyudmila Alexandrova. "Several Russian Parties Gather to Discuss Court Reform." (LEXIS)

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Crime and Corruption Watch [Prague]. 28 February 2002. Vol. 2, No. 8. "Russian Interior Ministry Claims It Knows Who Killed Starovoitova, Listev..." [Accessed 22 Apr. 2002]

_____. Newsline [Prague]. 9 November 2001. "Democratic Russia to Raise Again Issue of Burying Lenin." [Accessed 24 Apr. 2002]

_____. Newsline. 2 October 2001. Vol. 5, No. 186, Part I. "Shutov Trial Finally Begins." (

_____. Newsline. 19 June 2001. "Democratic Russia Prepares to Register as Party." [Accessed 24 Apr. 2002]

_____. Russian Federation Report [Prague]. 23 November 2001. Vol. 3, No. 32. "Investigation of Starovoitova Murder Extended Again." [Accessed 22 Apr. 2002]

RusData Dialine - Russian Press Digest. 21 May 2001. "A Trap for Nemtsov." (Russica Izvestia Information 2001/LEXIS)

Sunday Times [London]. 9 December 2001. Mark Franchetti. "Family Sue Over Russian Killing." (LEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

Countries of the World and Their Leaders Yearbook 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002

International Who's Who 1998-1999, 2000-2001

IRB Databases

Political Parties of the World 2002

Internet sites including: / Elections around the world

Freedom House

Human Rights Watch

International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights

The Russia Journal [Moscow]

Soyuz Pravil Sil (Union of Rightist Forces, political party)

UK Home Office Country Assessments

US Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. 1998-2001.

World News Connection (WNC)

Search engines including: (in Russian)