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Action on Natalia Estemirova

posted 10 Nov 2011, 10:43 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 10 Nov 2011, 10:50 ]
9 November 2011

From Graham Jones, Russia Country Coordinator, Amnesty International UK:

As part of our continuing actions on human rights defenders in Russia, this month's focus is on the case of Natalia Estemirova.

1) There is a sample letter attached.

2) Case history is pasted below

3) If you would like to send a solidarity message to memorial or Natalia's parents.
Memorial Human Rights Centre
Maly Karetny pereulok, 12
Moscow 127051

The cards can be addressed to Memorial and to Natalia Estemirova's family c/o Memorial

Suggested message We will always remember Natasha.
My vsegda budem pomnit Natashu.

4) If you would like a pdf copy of the joint NGO (not AI) investigation please let me know and I will send it to you by email.

Many thanks and best wishes

Graham Jones

Russia Country Coordinator
Amnesty International (UK)

Natalia Estemirova was a leading human rights activist working in Chechnya the North Caucasus region. She was abducted by armed men and killed in July 2009. The government has still not provided a full investigation into her killing and nobody has been brought to justice.

Natalia Estemirova, a history teacher by training, worked since 2000 for the Memorial Human Rights Centre in the North Caucasus. She gathered eye witness accounts of some of the worst crimes against humanity committed in the second Chechen conflict, and  in its aftermath she courageously continued to collect information on grave human rights violations, such as extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and ill-treatment in detention committed by local law enforcement agencies, as well as working on implementation of social and economic rights in the post-conflict Chechnya.
In an increasingly restrictive environment in Chechnya, where freedom of the media and the work of human rights NGOs were under serious threat, Natalia Estemirova was one of the very few people who dared to publish information about human rights violations in which government officials might have been involved. Natalia Estemirova told Amnesty International about threats by President Ramzan Kadyrov against her, her daughter, and also against journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who she was helping on her trips to Chechnya to get in contact with victims of human rights violations.  Following one such threat in March 2008, Natalia Estemirova  had to leave the country for several weeks.

In July 2009, she spoke to the media about the enforced disappearance of a young man from a hospital, where he had been under police guard, as well as about a case of alleged extrajudicial execution. She was reportedly told by the ombudsman of human rights of the Chechen Republic that her comments to the media had upset the authorities in Chechnya and that she had put herself at a risk by doing so.

In the morning of 15 July 2009, on her way to work, Natalia Estemirova was abducted by armed men outside the apartment building she lived in in Grozny. Her body was found a few hours later in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia. She had been shot at point blank range.
The investigation initially looked into different leads concerning the reasons for her murder. However, the possible involvement of authorities in her killing was brushed aside. In 2010, it transpired that the investigation was focusing on a version of events which many of Natalia Estemirova's colleagues find questionable: that she had been murdered by a member of an armed group.

In July 2011 Memorial, FIDH and Novaya Gazeta published a report of their own findings which questioned the version of the official investigation. The Russian Investigation Committee was initially dismissive of the report, claiming that its authors lacked the necessary expertise and did not have access to all the information in the case. However, following widespread coverage of the findings published by Natalia's colleagues, the Chairman of the Investigation Committee told the media that all possible leads would be investigated. Nevertheless, there are still no reliable signs that all those involved in the murder, including those who might have ordered it, will be brought to justice.
Rights in Russia,
14 Nov 2011, 01:30
Rights in Russia,
10 Nov 2011, 10:47