Galina Starovoytova

Galina Starovoytova (Russian: Галина Васильевна Старовойтова; 17 May 1946 – 20 November 1998) was a Soviet dissident, Russian politician and ethnographer known for her work in protecting ethnic minorities and promoting democratic reforms in Russia. Starovoytova was gunned down in the entryway of her apartment building in St. Petersburg on November 20, 1998. Her aide, Ruslan Linkov, was wounded in the attack. The murder investigation took place under the personal control of Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin, a prominent member of the pro-Western Yabloko party, former reformist FSB boss under Yeltsin, and future Prime Minister of Russia.

According to official investigation reports, the murder was organized by former GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate of Russia) hit man Yuri Kolchin. However, the people who ordered and funded Starovoytova’s assassination have yet to be found. Valeria Novodvorskaya, a famous Soviet dissident claimed that the Russian state security services murdered Starovoytova to eliminate her influence on Boris Yeltsin and her resistance to the appointing of former KGB general Yevgeny Primakov to the Prime Ministerial position.

In June 2005, two hit men, Yuri Kolchin and Vitali Akishin, were convicted for the murder and sentenced to 20 and 23 years in prison respectively. Akishin was charged for pulling the trigger, and Kolchin for organizing the attack. On the 28th of September 2006, Vyacheslav Lelyavin was sentenced to 11 years in prison for his role in the murder, while Sergey Musin, Oleg Fedosov and Igor Bogdanov are still wanted.

Starovoytova was buried in a prominent tomb in the Nikolskoye Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg. The monument depicts a tattered Russian flag and purportedly uses the pavement from where she was assassinated to cover the grave.

If you would like to provide a personal recollection, please email us at:

Region:Europe & Central Asia





Date of Killing:20/11/1998

Previous Threats:Yes

Type of Work:Public servant

Organisation:Russian Duma (Parlament)

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:Civil and Political Rights, ESC Rights

Sector Detail:Abuse of power/corruption, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Association, Freedom of Expression, Minority Rights, Women's Rights

More information:Front Line Defenders

1This database records an individual's chosen gender identity. If they do not self-identify as male or female they can use the option of recording other/neither or use the term NBGI (non binary gender identity).