Chechen Journalist and Activist Is Killed
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Natalya Estemirova, a prominent human rights worker who for a decade documented kidnappings and killings in Chechnya was snatched outside her home and found a few hours later near a highway, dead of gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Natalya Estemirova, a prominent human rights worker who for a decade documented kidnappings and killings in Chechnya was snatched outside her home on Wednesday and found a few hours later near a highway in a neighboring republic, dead of gunshot wounds to the head and chest.
Estemirova, 50, had become a central source of information on abuses in Chechnya, where separatist war has given way to a brutal counterinsurgency campaign. In recent years, Ms. Estemirova focused on kidnappings that she believed had been carried out under the authority of the Chechen president, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, who has enjoyed unwavering public support from the Kremlin.
Her work met with threats and denunciations from Chechen authorities. In March 2008, after Ms. Estemirova criticized a new law requiring women in Chechnya to wear head scarves, Mr. Kadyrov summoned her to a personal meeting and threatened her, an experience so frightening that she went abroad for several months, said Tatyana Kasatkina, deputy director of the Russian human rights group Memorial, where Ms. Estemirova had worked since 1999. Friends tried to convince Ms. Estemirova to stay away, but she felt compelled to return.
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