Galina Starovoitova, the tireless campaigner for human rights in the former Soviet Union who spoke at the ICRF conference in Berlin last year, was gunned down near her Leningrad apartment last November 20. She was Russia’s best known female politician and an outspoken opponent of Russia’s communists, ultra-nationalists, and organized crime. She was particularly vocal in her support of religious freedom and her opposition to bigotry, especially the anti-Semitism recently voiced by certain politicians of the far right..
President Boris Yeltsin, her sometime political ally, said, "Galina… defended the principles of freedom always and everywhere. She was one of the most outstanding figures in Russian politics." Even former president Mikhail Gorbachev, whose regime she and Yeltsin helped to topple, lamented her death as "a great loss to Russia."
Mrs. Starovoitova was a leading member of Russia’s legislature, or Duma. She was also a candidate for governor in the Leningrad area and was thought to be a potential future candidate for president of Russia. As of this writing, no suspects have been charged for her murder.