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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Former helicopter pilot Major Tim Peake will become the first UK astronaut in space for over 20 years
food + drinkNothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own