Retired Judge Killed After Death Threats

A retired judge was shot dead late Tuesday in Rostov-on-Don weeks after local courts were e-mailed a barrage of death threats.

Galina Bardina, 57, a former judge at the Rostov Regional Court, was found dead outside her home, local prosecutors said in a statement Wednesday.

Investigators think the killing might be linked to Bardina's former job, even though she retired a few years ago.

The chairman of Rostov's Myasnikov District Court, Samvel Manukyan, was shot to death outside his home in July after receiving an e-mailed death threat, Gazeta.ru reported.

Since August, at least six courts in the region have received e-mails threatening judges and their family members for "unlawful rulings." It was not immediately clear whether Bardina was among the addressees.

The letters were signed by an obscure nationalist group calling itself the Regional Branch of the Committee for Crimes Against Russian People in the Southern Federal District.

According to reports by local investigators, the e-mails said the judges had been "sentenced to death" and were to be shot for "providing cover to drug dealers, criminal policemen and foreigners."

No suspects have been disclosed. A criminal case was opened Wednesday on charges of murder and illegal arms possession, which are punishable by a maximum of 18 years behind bars.

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