The Russian Supreme Court dismissed the cassation appeal filed by the attorneys of Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, thus upholding the Moscow City Court's initial verdict. Both Tikhonov and Khasis watched the proceedings by video feed from the Lefortovo pre-trial detention centre as the fateful ruling was handed down.
On 6 May Federal Judge Aleksandr Zamashnyuk, drawing on the jury's verdict, sentenced Tikhonov to life in prison and Khasis to 18 years behind bars.
The defendants' attorneys used their cassation appeals to cite the violations committed during the court proceedings. They label Zamashnyuk's bias, the defendants' lawyer, Maksim Korotkov-Gulyayev, having been removed from the proceedings and the jury's breaking the law as the chief violations committed. The lawyers are convinced that Sergei Mamonov, the jury foreman who admitted to having collected information from the media outside of the court proceedings (doing so is against the law), should have been released from his duties by the judge.
The victims' representatives, however, have no doubt that the proceedings were fair. Roman Karpinsky, the attorney for the family of Stanislav Markelov, noted that jury member Anna Dobrachyova over the five months never put in writing her eyebrow-raising revelations to the press about the jury being manipulated.
Karpinsky also underscored that the criminal procedural code does not obligate the court to remove a juror if he or she has collected information on the proceedings outside the court; doing so is left to the judge's discretion. As Karpinsky put it, “A juror may be removed for the rest of the proceedings if any information influences the juror’s ability to be objective when issuing a verdict.” Mamonov told the judge that the information did not influence him.
Presiding Judge Alexei Shurygin and the two other judges convened for roughly an hour. During the recess, Tikhonov, behind bars and hugging Khasis, blew kisses over the video feed to his sister, who had just approached the camera. When the court returned to order, the judges read the substantive provisions of the ruling, dismissing the cassation appeal and upholding the Moscow City Court’s verdict, which then entered into legal force. Tikhonov and Khasis remained stoic when they heard the Supreme Court’s ruling, or at least for the first few seconds, after which the video feed was cut off.
The defendants’ attorneys will appeal the ruling with the supervisory court and the European Court for Human Rights. Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburova were gunned down on 19 January 2009 in Moscow’s Prechistenka neighbourhood. The court ruled that Nikita Tikhonov shot Markelov to death because of his ideological hatred for the attorney, a staunch opponent of fascism; he killed Baburova, a journalist, for being an “inconvenient” witness. Yevgenia Khasis, Tikhonov’s long-time girlfriend, followed Markelov and Baburova. She gave Tikhonov the signal when the attorney and journalist appeared in the street. The case materials regarding the presupposed abettors have been separated into individual proceedings. One of the people involved, Alexei Korshunov, is also suspected of murdering Judge Eduard Chuvashov and Ivan Khutorskoi, an antifascist.