Russian Human Rights Activist Found Dead

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Photo: AP

The Telegraph is reporting that Natalia Estemirova, a human rights activist with the famous Russian human rights group Memorial, was found dead on Wednesday after suffering a ‘violent death.’ She was found in Ingushetia after being kidnapped earlier in Chechnya. Estemirova had covered abuses in Chechnya and openly criticized the Moscow installed leader, Ramzan Kadirov. The war in general is a topic that is largely off limits for Russian mainstream media.

The group she worked for, Memorial, is highly regarded in rights circles and was formed in the last days of the Soviet Union to investigate political repression under Stalin. Last year, the government raided their offices and confiscated the archives the group had compiled for decades about atrocities carried out under Stalin.

Estemirova was a close friend and colleague of Anna Politovskaya, the Novaya Gazeta journalist who was killed, most believe, for her critical coverage of the Chechen war. Estemirova traveled frequently with Politovskaya in Chechnya and won an award named after Politovskaya for investigative journalism.

Blogger Robert Amsterdam’s early reaction:

Her sudden kidnapping and murder is a most vile act, one that is almost unspeakable in its hideous brutality. Yet it is also a murder that we should not consider in isolation. There is a long history of tolerated attacks against journalists and human rights activists, and a climate for impunity and rule of law that holds no one accountable for this kind of crime. The message is clear and not undesirable for some elements of the government: those of courage who challenge the status quo may find themselves paying a high price.

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One Response to “Russian Human Rights Activist Found Dead”

  1. Index on Censorship Says:

    To supplement your articles on Estemirova, here is our coverage of Kadyrov’s “defamation” charge against human rights group Memorial’s Oleg Orlov for alleging Kadyrov was responsible for Estemirova’s murder. With thanks, Index on Censorship.
    http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2009/10/chechnya-president-wins-estemirova-defamation-trial/