The murder of Chechen human rights activist Natalia Estemirova has shocked fellow activists around the world. Colleagues said she was a rare voice of dissent in Chechnya, continuing to highlight abuses despite annoying powerful figures.
Her body was found in neighbouring Ingushetia, but her human rights group Memorial said orders for the murder came from the highest level in Chechnya, including President Ramzan Kadyrov. Estemirova had infuriated the President by exposing unlawful killings, abductions and other abuses. “She had recently exposed an arbitrary execution that happened in a remote village in Chechnya and of course she was putting the responsibility on Kadyrov’s forces,” said Else Vidal from Reporters Without Frontiers. One tribute paid to Estemirova said she had been a figure of normality in Chechnya, and the system had simply crushed her.