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    Supreme Court upholds sentence in 1998 lawmaker murder case

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    MOSCOW, March 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Supreme Court upheld Thursday the 11-year sentence in the murder case of Galina Starovoitova, a prominent lawmaker in 1998.

    Starovoitova, 52, the leader of the Democratic Russia party, was shot dead in the stairwell of her home in central St. Petersburg, Russia's second city, in November 1998.

    On September 28, a court in St. Petersburg sentenced Vyacheslav Lelyalin to 11 years in prison for helping to arrange the shooting of the State Duma deputy. He will serve his sentence in a high-security prison.

    He was detained in 2004 and faced charges of phone tapping and attempted murder of a state or public figure. The other defendant in the trial, Pavel Stekhnovsky, was sentenced to two years but released because the statue of limitations for his offense had run out.

    A jury decided that the lawmaker's killing was not politically motivated. Starovoitova was the only woman to run for the Russian presidency in the 1996 election and was considering joining the presidential race in 2000 at the time of her death.

    The MP served as an ethnic advisor to President Boris Yeltsin in the early 1990s, was a human rights champion and worked with prominent human rights advocate Andrei Sakharov. She was known as an uncompromising politician.

    Stekhnovsky was found guilty only of obtaining a weapon but cleared of murder charges. He was arrested in Belgium in 2004 and extradited to Russia to face charges of involvement in obtaining weapons, attempted murder of a state or public figure and a terrorist attack.

    Two other men, intelligence officer Yury Kolchin and Vitaly Akishin, were sentenced in July 2005 to 20 and 23 and years in prison, respectively, for organizing the murder of Starovoitova.

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