Russian colonel who tortured Chechen girl to death is given a hero's funeral

 

Khimki

A former Russian army colonel convicted of the torture and murder of an 18-year-old Chechen girl was given a hero's burial yesterday, after he was shot dead by unknown attackers in Moscow last week.

Hundreds of Russian nationalists joined family and former army comrades at the funeral of Yuri Budanov, at a small church in Khimki, on the outskirts of Moscow. The air was thick with the smell of incense and freshly cut carnations as a long line of mourners filed past the open coffin to kiss Budanov's corpse. Choral music echoed around the church, but the tranquil setting could not hide the controversial past of the central player.

Yuri Budanov was jailed for 10 years in 2003 for the kidnap and murder of Elza Kungayeva. He abducted the teenager after an evening of drinking in March 2000, dragging her from her family home in Chechnya and torturing her in a railway carriage. He was arrested two days later and charged with murder and rape – one of very few Russian officers to be put on trial for atrocities committed during the Chechen campaigns.

The rape charge was dropped, but Budanov admitted killing the girl, saying he thought she was a sniper, and that he had killed her in a fit of anger during questioning.

The colonel became a hero for the Russian far right, and most Russians believe he should not have been prosecuted. His initial trial ended with a "not guilty" verdict, the court finding that he had been a victim of temporary insanity. That was overturned by the country's Supreme Court, which gave him a 10-year prison sentence, of which he served six years before being released in 2009.

His release caused outrage in Chechnya, even among its pro-Moscow authorities, and the most likely motive for his killing on Friday appears to be revenge for Ms Kungayeva's murder. He was shot four times in the head, outside a Moscow notary's office, before the assailant fled in a Mitsubishi Lancer driven by an accomplice.

Chechnya has a long tradition of "blood feuds", in which victims' relatives take revenge for the dead, but Ms Kungayeva's father, who now lives in Norway, said the family had nothing to do with Budanov's killing. Chechnya's controversial President, Ramzan Kadyrov, has spoken out on the case several times, however. In 2009 when the possibility of Budanov's release was raised, he said: "Budanov is a schizophrenic and a killer; an enemy of the Chechen people. He insulted our people, and every man, woman and child believes that while Budanov still exists, the shame is still there."

Mr Kadyrov, a former rebel who now has the Kremlin's backing, warned: "Even a life sentence will only slightly ease our suffering. We will not take insults, and if the right decision isn't taken, the consequences will be bad."

At the funeral yesterday, many pointed the finger at Mr Kadyrov, and at Chechens in general, with some calling for revenge attacks. Many of those in attendance were members of Russia's neo-Nazi moment. Some had SS tattoos or wore swastika armbands, while others sported ribbons and slogans glorifying the Soviet victory inthe Second World War. Yet more were decked out in Orthodox Christian paraphernalia, highlighting the confused nature of the country's nationalist far right. However, it is not just a lunatic fringe which supports Budanov. After the church ceremony, the coffin was interred with full military honours.

As he was laid in the earth, a military band played a dirge and soldiers standing in front of a Russian tricolour fired off a salute from rifles. Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a leading nationalist politician, made an appearance at the funeral, and called for the posthumous rehabilitation of Budanov. Even on Ekho Moskvy, the radio station listened to mainly by the liberal elite, more than half of the respondents to a telephone poll said they believed the dead soldier should be rehabilitated. "He was an absolute hero, and I hope that one day children will come here to his grave and pray," said Viktor Potapov, 52, a tall, grizzled paratrooper who had served with the Soviet army during its ill-fated campaign in Afghanistan and then with Budanov during the First Chechen War of 1994-96.

He said that Budanov had commanded the respect of all that served with him, and was known for his bravery. "Once he disobeyed orders and managed to save four tanks and their crews, that we all thought were goners," he said. The soldier said that Ms Kungayeva was a sniper, a frequently heard claim that was not substantiated by the investigation, and added: "War is war – terrible things happen."

The police investigation into Budanov's murder is continuing.

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

JavaScript Developer (Angular, Web Forms, HTML5, Ext JS,CSS3)

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: JavaScript Dev...

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice