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Funeral Held for Russia’s Leading Woman Politician

Russian democratic reform leader Galina Starovoitova was buried today at the honorable Alexander Nevsky monastery in St. Petersburg. Russian reformers are still in shock after her murder, which took place last Friday outside of her apartment. Police suspect that a pair of killers is responsible, but have not identified the suspects.

Starovoitova, Russia’s leading female politician, was well known for her involvement in national politics. Her killing served as a symbol of Russia’s increasing political and social problems.

Thousands of mourned waited for hours in the bitter cold outside the Ethnography Museum to view Starovoitova’s open coffin.

Leader of the reform movement, Anatoly Chubais, blames “Communists and bandits” for plotting her murder. Earlier, in Moscow, Communist leaders called for “emergency measures” to keep Russia from unraveling.

Sergei Kiriyenko, a former prime minister who attended the funeral, called the murder “purely political.” No one among the mourners seemed to believe the killers would be found.

“They couldn’t buy her, so they killed her,” said retiree Vera Zhuk. “She didn’t hide. She didn’t run, so they killed her. Such things will happen again to anyone who is brave.”

Starovoitova began her political career during Mikhail Gorbachev’s leadership into democracy. She supported Yeltsin into power and served as his minister in charge of ethnic affairs. However, she was fired by Yeltsin in 1993 because of her objection to using troops in the ethnic conflict in Russia’s Caucasus region.

Starovoitova, 52, campaigned for human rights and just before her death, demanded that a Communist Duma legislator be officially censured for blaming Jews for Russia’s problems.

In the weeks before her death, Starovoitova told friends of the threatening phone calls she was receiving. She is survived by a son, 28, and a young grandson.

Sources:

The Washington Post - November 24, 1998

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