The murder of the leading Russian human rights activist Natalia Estemirova has prompted international outrage.
The UN, the EU and the Council of Europe have condemned her death and called on Russia to find the killers and bring them to justice. Estemirova was bundled into a car in the Chechen capital, Grozny, as she left for work. Her body was later found in neighbouring Ingushetia, in woods near the city of Nazran. She had been shot twice in the head. Estemirova’s boss Oleg Orlov at the human rights group “Memorial” is in no doubt about who was involved: “I know, and can say, in principle, who killed her, who is guilty of this death. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov. He is the President of the Chechen Republic. I know that this man hated Natasha. I know that a number of times the way he spoke about her was extremely critical.” Kadyrov is a former rebel turned Kremlin loyalist. In media reports, he described Estemirova’s killers as “inhuman” and promised to supervise the inquiry into her death personally. Estemirova, who was investigating alleged abuses by government-backed militia in Chechnya, was a close friend of activist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in 2006. She had also worked with another human rights campaigner, Stanislav Markelov, who was killed in January this year.