The Russian human rights group Memorial, mourning the death of a leading activist, has blamed her murder on the authorities in Chechnya. Natalia Estemirova was kidnapped and killed yesterday. Memorial says the order came from the highest level.
“I don’t know who exactly gave the orders to kill Natasha, but I do know who is guilty of her death,” said Memorial leader Oleg Orlov. “His name is Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of the Chechen Republic. I know he hated Natasha; he was extremely critical of her.” Kadyrov is a former rebel-turned-Moscow loyalist. He fought Russian rule in Chechnya before swapping sides. Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted him as saying Estemirova’s murder was monstrous and the perpetrators must be punished. Estemirova was kidnapped near her home yesterday in Grozny. Her body was found later near Nazran in Ingushetia. She had been shot twice in the head. Memorial said her investigations into abductions, unlawful killings and other abuses in Chechnya had infuriated the authorities and brought veiled warnings. Estemirova was a single mother and leaves a teenage daughter.