FORMER RUSSIAN COLONEL, KILLER OF CHECHEN GIRL, MAY BE PARDONED

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ULYANOVSK, September 18 (RIA Novosti) -Yuri Budanov, a former colonel of the Russian army, may be soon released from prison.

The local pardons commission of the Ulyanovsk Region at its field session on Wednesday, September 15, approved a clemency application filed by Budanov who is currently serving a 10-year term for murdering the Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva.

The commission's field session was held on the premises of the Dimitrovgrad's correctional facility No.3 where the colonel is serving his sentence. Earlier, forensic experts found that he had been partially insane when strangling the Chechen girl to death. The crime had a strong resonance throughout Chechnya and has badly impaired the image of the Russian army.

The commission found it possible to free Budanov for good conduct both from the main punishment of imprisonment and from the supplementary ones - deprivation of military rank and decorations and forfeiture of his right to hold posts in civil service.

The commission's decision is now to be approved by Governor of the Ulyanovsk Region Vladimir Shamanov and then by President of the Russian Federation.

In the meantime, Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov thinks that Yuri Budanov must serve the whole term of his sentence. "In my opinion, he must serve the full sentence imposed on him by court. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison," Kolesnikov said in his televized remarks to the NTV Channel's `Country and the World` news programme.

Kolesnikov pointed out that he was making this statement in his official capacity of the Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation.

The clemency application considered by the pardons commission on Wednesday was the second such request filed by Budanov. On May 19 this year, the local pardons commission already came to consider a similar application which, however, was unexpectedly recalled by Budanov during the commission's session. He referred to ambiguity with hiscitizenship status (Budanov joined the armed forces in 1982 when he resided in Ukraine, then a constituent republic of the USSR) as the main reason for his decision to withdraw the first application.

At the commission's session on Wednesday, Budanov stated that the issue of his citizenship had been first brought up on May 19, 2004 but as early as on May 21 he received a fully valid passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation.

At its July 25, 2003 session, the tribunal of the North Caucasus military district found Yuri Budanov, a former commander of the 160th tank regiment, guilty of murdering the Chechen girl Elza Kungayeva in summer 2000 and sentenced him to 10-year imprisonment in a high security correctional facility. The court stripped Budanov of his military rank of a colonel as well as of his state decoration - the Order of Courage.

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