20 November 2022
by Lev Shlosberg
Twenty-four years ago, on 20 November 1998, at 10:35 p.m., Galina Vasilievna Starovoitova, one of the most formidable politicians of the post-Soviet era, was murdered in the entryway of her home in St. Petersburg.
Her murder has never been fully solved. The perpetrators were identified and evidence linked the organisation of the killing to the former LDPR State Duma deputy Mikhail Gluschenko, a member of the Tambov organised crime group in St. Petersburg. On 8 November 2013, the FSB charged Glushchenko with an attempt on the life of Starovoitova. In April 2014, Gluschenko admitted he was an accomplice to the murder of Starovoitova, and gave the investigation the name of another alleged organiser of the crime – the head of the Tambov organised crime group Vladimir Barsukov (Kumarin). In 2019 Barsukov was charged with organising Starovoitova’s murder. However, the name of the person who ultimately ordered the killing remains unknown.
Galina Starovoitova was an absolutely fearless politician. She could have become president, minister of defence or minister of foreign affairs. She had enormous influence with the public and won elections in single-mandate constituencies (in 1989 Starovoitova was elected People’s Deputy of the USSR from Armenia with 75.1% of the vote; in 1990 she won election as an RSFSR People’s Deputy and in 1995 she was elected a deputy in the Russian State Duma from single-mandate constituency No. 209 in St. Petersburg).
In December 1992, Starovoitova submitted a bill to the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR ‘On banning politicians who carried out the policies of the totalitarian regime from public life.’ The bill proposed introducing restrictions on the professional activities of the staff of the CPSU apparatus and on staff members and agents of the Soviet and Russian security services. In 1997, Starovoitova resubmitted the bill to the Russian State Duma, but it was never adopted.
Following the murder of Galina Starovoitova, Oleg Basilashvili said: ‘She was the only contemporary Russian politician who was not afraid to raise her voice on the most urgent, most serious and dangerous issues, and whose voice was heard. And now we’ve frozen in a kind of silence, a premonition of a return to half-whispered conversations in our kitchens.’
Translated by Simon Cosgrove