Galina Starovoitova and an aide, Ruslan Linkov, were attacked by two unknown people on the stairwell of Starovoitova's apartment building on November 20, 1998. Starovoitova died on the spot, and Linkov suffered critical head wounds. Starovoitova was in St. Petersburg to attend a session of the Northern Capital political movement. Starovoitova was a pro-Democratic deputy in the Duma, considered to be a candidate for president. Communists were suspected and the assasination assumed to be politically motivated. Yeltsin launched an investigation and said he would assume control over it. Stepashin, the Interior Minister, said the crime was being investigated under a criminal code section that covers terrorism.
Politically, Starovoitova was well known for being motivated by ideas rather than interests and for expressing hostility towards official corruption. Starovoitova had been openly critical of the Communists' anti-Semitic statements, which caused suspicion to be cast towards the Communists for the murder. However, just as likely to be responsible are groups involved in organized crime, since there is a strong financial relationship between many government offices and organized crime which Starovoitova would have liked to stop.
Starovoitova's murder occurred at a crucial time for Russia and therefor had much political impact - it reflected negatively on Russia's economic and political situation and would probably deter others from being politically outspoken. This is one of six murders of members of Russia's Parliament since 1993, but since Starovoitova was not connected with shady business dealings (which is a common reason for political assasinations in Russia) this situation is especially despairing.
This murder also had a large impact on city council elections in St. Petersburg in December 1998, which were seen as key for Russia's democratic politicians since they are leading to the national parliamentary elections and the presidential elections in 2000. Starovoitova's murder was part of a large trend of violence associated with the elections, but as a result of the killing turnout for the first round of the elections was twice as large as expected.
Nov. 20th - Galina Starovoitova assasinated
Nov. 21st - 200 people gather in Palace Square; Yeltsin starts investigation
Nov. 24th - Starovoitova's funeral - over 10,000 people attend