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.

Sport
footballLIVE City face Stoke, while Warnock returns to Palace dugout
Arts and Entertainment
books
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
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
Latest stories from i100
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

Junior VB.NET Application Developer (ASP.NET, SQL, Graduate)

£28000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior VB.NET ...

C# .NET Web Developer (ASP.NET, JavaScript, jQuery, XML, XLST)

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Web De...

Clinical Negligence Solicitor

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: HAMPSHIRE MARKET TOWN - A highly attr...

Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone