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Medvedev discusses journalist, lawyer shooting with Gorbachev

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MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev discussed on Thursday the recent shootings in Moscow of a lawyer and a Novaya Gazeta journalist with the paper's editor, as well as its co-owner, ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

Lawyer Stanislav Markelov was shot dead on January 19 in downtown Moscow. Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova was also wounded in the attack and died a few hours later in hospital.

At the meeting on Thursday, Medvedev discussed the development of civil society in Russia and the case of another high-profile killing, that of Novaya Gazeta investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in October 2006. At least five Novaya Gazeta journalists have been killed since the paper was founded with money donated by Gorbachev in 1993.

The paper's other joint owner is Alexander Lebedev, a former KGB agent and new owner of London's Evening Standard newspaper. Lebedev recently said he could not guarantee the safety of Novaya Gazeta journalists and suggested they should be granted gun licenses so they can defend themselves. The proposal was rejected by the Moscow police chief.

Baburova had accompanied Markelov to a press conference where the lawyer had protested against the early release on parole of former Russian army colonel Yury Budanov.

Budanov, who commanded a tank regiment during the second military campaign in Chechnya, was convicted in the summer of 2003 of strangling 18-year-old Elsa Kungayeva three years earlier and was sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was paroled earlier this month.

At least 23 journalists have been killed in Russia since 2000.

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