March 10, 2011

I. Background

The Rise and Role of Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya

The “virtue campaign” for women in Chechnya has been a key project for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, since he consolidated power in Chechnya. Kadyrov’s trajectory to power began when Russia’s large-scale military operations to bring Chechnya back into Russian federal rule ended in 2000. At that time the federal government gradually began to hand responsibility for governing the republic and carrying out counterinsurgency operations to pro- Kremlin Chechen leaders. This process, which involved handing over the license to violence from federal forces to pro-Kremlin Chechen forces, became known among analysts as “Chechenization.”[2]

Seeking a figure who could gain the trust of important strata within Chechen society, the Kremlin chose Akhmat Kadyrov, the former mufti, or leading religious authority, of Chechnya, who then became president of Chechnya in October 2003 elections organized by the Kremlin.[3] As a security policy, “Chechenization” aimed to place most responsibility for law and order and counterinsurgency operations on republican security structures. An important factor in this process was Akhmat Kadyrov’s personal security service, known as the Presidential Security Service, which was headed by his son, Ramzan. The Presidential Security Service, informally referred to as “Kadyrovtsy,” soon became the most important indigenous force in Chechnya.[4]

In May 2004 a bomb attack killed Akhmat Kadyrov, and Russian authorities organized a presidential election to replace their chosen partner. Twenty-seven-year-old Ramzan, who was already commander of the “Kadyrovtsy,” inherited his father’s influence but could not yet run for president as the Chechen constitution establishes 30 as the minimum age for presidential candidates. Alu Alkhanov, a candidate chosen by the Kremlin, was elected president, and Ramzan Kadyrov was appointed first vice-prime minister in charge of security.[5]

Over the course of 2005, Kadyrov was able to push his allies into key positions in the Ministry of Internal Affairs for Chechnya, and thus gain direct influence over the ministry as a whole. [6] In 2005 and into early 2006, Ramzan Kadyrov’s political power grew substantially. In spring 2006, he became prime minister of Chechnya. In February 2007 his ascent to power was completed through Alu Alkhanov’s apparently forced resignation as president. Taking the place of Alkhanov, Ramzan Kadyrov was sworn in as president of the Chechen Republic in April 2007, following his nomination to the post by Russia’s then-President Vladimir Putin.[7]

In 2008, Kadyrov firmly established himself as the only real power figure in Chechnya.[8] Since that time, there have been persistent, credible allegations that law enforcement and security agencies under Kadyrov’s full de facto control have been involved in abductions, enforced disappearances, acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, and collective punishment practices, mostly against alleged insurgents, their relatives, and suspected collaborators.[9] Numerous experts on the North Caucasus, including those in international organizations, have described Kadyrov’s rule over Chechnya as a “personality cult” regime and stressed that Kadyrov’s orders have become, in essence, the only law in the republic.[10]  In 2010, Kadyrov’s title was changed from “president” to “head” of the Chechen Republic[11] but this change was only nominal and has had had no impact on the scope of this authority.

Headscarves and the Evolution of the “Campaign for Female Virtue” under Kadyrov’s Rule

Kadyrov’s first attempt to exercise moral policing of women was carried out in 2006, while he was still prime minister, shortly before his promotion to the presidency of the republic. Early that year, Kadyrov stated that the use of cell phones had a negative impact on female morality supposedly by providing women with an opportunity to flirt with men and arrange dates, after which several young women had their cell phones forcibly taken away from them by law enforcement officials.[12] Around the same time, Kadyrov made his first public calls regarding the necessity for Chechen women to cover their hair.[13] 

After his appointment by the Kremlin as president of the Chechen Republic in 2007, Kadyrov began to more actively convey to the public the role he believes females should play in Chechen society and the social and moral rules local women needed to abide by. He openly asserted that women were inferior and should be subjugated to men, equating women with male property. He also openly and uncritically acknowledged polygamy[14] and honor killings as part of Chechen tradition,[15] even though both are unambiguously prohibited by Russian law.[16] For example, in an interview with a leading Russian mainstream daily, Komsomolskaya Pravda, Kadyrov stated:

I have the right to criticize my wife. She doesn’t [have the right to criticize me]. With us [in Chechen society], a wife is a housewife. A woman should know her place. A woman should give her love to us [men]… She would be [man’s] property. And the man is the owner. Here, if a woman does not behave properly, her husband, father, and brother are responsible. According to our tradition, if a woman fools around, her family members kill her… That’s how it happens, a brother kills his sister or a husband kills his wife… As a president, I cannot allow for them to kill. So, let women not wear shorts…[17]

Kadyrov further reflected on Chechen customs on maintaining women’s honor when commenting on the murder of seven women whose bodies were found by the roadside in Chechnya at the end of November 2008. Kadyrov told the BBC:

Here in Chechnya if a woman is running around, if a man is running around with her, then the both of them are killed. According to the information available, there was a woman who was “working” with the killed [women] – she wanted to take them away from the [Chechen] Republic, [she] was in the process of obtaining travel passports for them in order to sell them to brothels [abroad]. It’s being said that the women’s relatives [found out and] killed them… I’m simply talking about [our] customs. Ask anyone, even the youngest boy, “What are you gonna do if your sister starts running around?” Anyone will tell you, “I’ll kill her!”[18]

Several high-level Chechen officials, including the local ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhazhiev, echoed Kadyrov in their assessment of the situation without suggesting that such “traditions” should be changed. “Unfortunately, we have some women who started to forget about the behavioral code of highland women. And their relatives–the men who consider themselves offended [by the behavior of those women]–do lynch them sometimes,” stated Nukhazhiev.[19]

Unwritten rules on headscarves: from public institutions to public space

Issues surrounding modest dress and head coverings for women have been at the core of Kadyrov’s efforts to strengthen “female virtue” in Chechnya. In 2007, he launched a special program for the revival of moral values among Chechen youth, which placed special emphasis on modesty laws for women.[20]

By the autumn of 2007, Kadyrov publicly announced, including on television, that all women working for state institutions had to wear headscarves and expected to see his wishes carried out immediately.[21]

In November 2007 Kadyrov elaborated on the issue of female dress for Grozny and Vainakh republican television channels in November 2007, singling out the Ministry of Culture for its failure to enforce headscarf rules among its own staff:

Today, I’m worried about how our young women dress. Our brides sometimes present themselves to their mother-in-law, to the groom’s relatives–do excuse me–almost naked and with their head uncovered. They show up in the streets in mini-skirts and with their hair loose. The mentality of our people does not allow for these things. I’d really want to see Chechen young women look like true Muslims, who observe the customs and traditions of their people. Here the key role should belong to the republican Ministry of Culture. However, just look how the ministry’s own [female] staff-members dress! We have already issued a directive that all bridal parlors exhibit [our] ethnic [female] dresses. The Committee on Youth Affairs is planning to recruit prominent designers to create one single uniform for youth educational institutions.[22]

By the end of 2007, women employed in the public sector, including television anchors, female officials, teachers, and even staff-members of the ombudsman’s office diligently wore headscarves to work.[23]

In 2007 local education authorities introduced uniforms, which included headscarves for female students, in Chechen schools and universities. Those who tried to resist the headscarf requirement were simply denied entry to their respective offices or academic institutions, despite the absence of any legal basis for the new requirement.[24]

In response to an inquiry by journalists, the deputy head of Chechen State University, Mokhdan Kerimov, vehemently defended the headscarf requirement for female students, but not by reference to any legal basis: “Our girls have been covered up by headscarves since the very day on which the Chechen nation came into being. [We] demand that [they] they wear headscarves. [We] demand for the Chechen State University to have a Chechen face.”[25]

The headscarf requirement for access to the university’s premises extends to non-Chechen and non-Muslim females. The Memorial Human Rights Center reported that in February 2008, security guards denied entry into the university’s compound to one of the organization’s non-Chechen researchers, demanding that she cover her hair. She tried to explain that she was not Muslim, but university officials informed her that it did not matter as the headscarf requirement concerned all females. After approximately one hour of arguing with university officials, the Memorial researcher convinced the deputy head of the university to allow her to enter, in light of her long history of cooperation with the university. However, she was told clearly that no such exceptions would be made for her in the future. The deputy head of the university also refused to show her any written instructions regarding the entry ban for women without headscarves but made a reference to Chechnya being “an Islamic republic with its own national mentality.”[26]

The author of this report had a similar experience when she tried to enter the Chechen State University without a headscarf in May 2008. The security guards refused to let her discuss the matter with the university’s leadership. She told them that she was neither Chechen nor Muslim, and that the ban was not based in law. The security guards insisted that in order to enter the building “all women had to wear headscarves, no matter what.”[27]

Two female staff members of Chechen State University, who asked that their identities be withheld due to possible reprisals, described to Human Rights Watch how young male security guards routinely inspected their clothing for “propriety” and “broke into the classrooms,” including in the middle of a lecture, to check if all women had their hair covered. They described the experience as “deeply humiliating” for them as well as for other female staff at the university.[28]

In a December 2008 interview with the BBC, the deputy head of the university strongly denied that the headscarf requirement for access to the Chechen State University premises contradicted the Russian constitution, saying that “no constitutional breach could be found, as elements of the uniform are accepted in numerous educational institutions in the country and [more broadly]in the world.”[29]

The chair of the Rule of Law and State Building Committee of the Chechen Parliament, Mompash Machuev, also reassured the press that all laws of the Chechen Republic “are in strict compliance with the federal ones. All normative acts already adopted or to be adopted by the Parliament of the Chechen Republic are checked for compliance with federal legislation.”[30] This statement may in fact be accurate, as the headscarf policy, along with many other rules enforced in Chechnya under Kadyrov, are not provided for in law or even tabled before the parliament.[31]

Gradually, throughout 2009 and 2010, the “headscarf rule” spread to public places in general, including entertainment venues, cinemas, and even outdoor areas.[32]

As this report went to press, Human Rights Watch became aware of a written instruction regarding headscarves issued by the Chechen government. In a January 25, 2011 letter to all republican and local government agencies, the Administration for the Head and Government of the Chechen Republic  underscored the need to “strictly enforce” an instruction issued by Kadyrov regarding the dress code for civil servants. The dress code consists of:  “for male staff, a suit and tie, on Fridays—traditional Muslim dress. For women staff:  the appropriate headdress, dress and skirt—below the knees, and three-quarter sleeves.”[33]

Although state authorities may enjoy discretion to establish guidelines on office attire for civil servants, the limits to personal autonomy imposed by such guidelines must be necessary, proportionate and nondiscriminatory.  The dress code set out in the January 25, 2011 letter applies to both men and women. However the requirement on all women to wear headscarves and exact types of skirts and shirts based on specific gendered and religious grounds is more onerous and stringent than the requirement imposed on men, and is discriminatory. The obligation on men on Fridays to wear a particular type of religious dress is also incompatible with protections of freedom of religion and expression.  

Kadyrov appears very sensitive to public criticism of the headscarf policy. A leading researcher for the Memorial Human Rights Center in Chechnya and a close friend and colleague of Human Rights Watch, Natalia Estemirova – who was abducted near her home in Grozny and brazenly murdered in July 2009[34]– had been vocally protesting the Chechen authorities’ policy to enforce a compulsory Islamic dress code for women since 2007.[35] In early 2008, Estemirova gave a long television interview in which she criticized the headscarf policy, insisting that forcing Chechen women to wear headscarves was wrong, unlawful, and constituted a blatant violation of the right to privacy. The interview, which was part of a program about the Islamic revival in Chechnya, was shown on REN-TV, a television channel that broadcasts to many regions in Russia, on March 30, 2008. The next day, Ramzan Kadyrov personally dismissed Estemirova from the Grozny City Human Rights Council,[36] raising his voice to her, making derisive remarks to try to shame her for not adhering to modesty laws, and threatening her with repercussions for her unyielding criticism.[37]

International Response

In June 2010 the enforcement of unwritten rules for women regarding headscarves and other violations of women’s rights in Chechnya came to the attention of the Council of Europe. In a report presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), the rapporteur on human rights violations in the Northern Caucasus for the PACE Committee for Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Dick Marty, critically assessed the human rights situation in the region, based on his trip to Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan in spring 2010. With regard to women’s rights, Marty wrote:

Where the relationship between religious practices and the rights of women is concerned, we heard reports of degrading treatment suffered by women following the introduction of rules directly dictated by the regime run by the current president of the Chechen Republic. Women caught without headscarves in the street have been publicly humiliated on local television. The Chechen courts now apply rules drawn from Sharia law, in contravention of Russian law. As a result, for example, a woman who is widowed may have any children over 12 years of age and her property taken away from her by her deceased husband's family. The prevailing attitudes towards women cannot be justified by putting them down to tradition and culture. This is an intolerable situation, often exacerbated by the behavior and statements of the local authorities… [38]


International, European, and Domestic Legal Standards

The enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code on women in Chechnya violates their rights to private life, personal autonomy, freedom of expression and to freedom of religion, thought, and conscience. It is also a form of gender-based discrimination prohibited under international law.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guarantees people's right to freedom of religion, as reflected in article 18.2, which states that "no one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his [or her] freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his [or her] choice."[39]

Asma Jahangir, former United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and her predecessor, Abdelfattah Amor, have both criticized rules that require the wearing of religious dress in public. In particular, Amor has urged that dress should not be the subject of political regulation. Jahangir has said that the "use of coercive methods and sanctions applied to individuals who do not wish to wear religious dress or a specific symbol seen as sanctioned by religion" indicates "legislative and administrative actions which typically are incompatible with international human rights law."[40]

Article 8 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR), to which Russia is a party, obliges the state to protect the right to privacy and personal autonomy, which includes the right to make decisions over one’s personal attire. Articles 9 and 10 of the Convention protect religious freedom and freedom of expression, and successive European Court of Human Rights rulings have confirmed that such freedoms are protected even in cases where activities “offend, shock, or disturb the state or any sector of the population.”[41] While Article 9 does allow governments some leeway in regulating religious dress in the interest of preserving public order, in order to justify such policies, a government must be able to demonstrate a pressing public need and provide for them in law. Article 9 does not bestow the right on governments to force any individual to wear a particular form of clothing in adherence to a particular religious code. Chechnya’s policy requiring adherence to Islamic dress for women, has no legal basis, yet is maintained by the republic’s government with apparent silent complicity from the federal government, and violates Russia’s obligations as a party to the ECHR.[42]

As a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Russia has an obligation “to refrain from engaging any act or practice of discrimination against women and to ensure that public authorities and institutions shall act in conformity with this obligation”; and to take all appropriate measures with a view “to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on …stereotyped roles for men and women.”[43]  Russia also has specific positive obligations to put an end to violence against women. Adopting a strict dress code targeted at women, and enforcing it in an arbitrary and abusive manner, is a clear violation of Russia’s obligations in this regard. It also violates Russia’s obligations on equality with respect to Articles 2 and 26 of the ICCPR[44] and Article 14 of the ECHR.[45] 

Imposing Islamic dress on women is not only inconsistent with Russia's international human rights obligations but is also contrary to Russia’s constitution, by which Chechnya is bound as a subject of the Russian Federation and which guarantees freedom of conscience in Article 28:  “All are guaranteed to freedom of conscience, freedom of religious practice, including the right to practice any religion individually or together with others, or abstain from religious belief altogether, and the freedom to keep and distribute religious and other convictions and act accordance with them.”[46]

Finally, Article 11 of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic, in full compliance with Russia’s Basic Law, maintains that “the Chechen Republic is a secular state. No religion can be made a state religion or a mandatory one.”[47]

[2]See, for example, DEMOS Research Center, Public Verdict Foundation, Civic Assistance Committee, et al.,  “Russian NGOs’ Shadow Report on the Observance of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment by the Russian Federation for the Period from 2001 to 2006,” November 2006, (paragraphs NC 12-13, accessed December 7, 2010).

[3]Kadyrov supported independence in the first Chechen war, but switched sides to support Moscow early in the second war. Russian and international human rights groups reported that the elections were marred by voter intimidation and major fraud. See International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, “Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Report 2004 (Events of 2003),” IHF, 2004, (accessed June 18, 2009).

[4]This report uses the term “Kadyrovtsy” to refer to forces believed to be effectively under the command of Ramzan Kadyrov.

[5]President Alkhanov described Kadyrov’s responsibilities as “… answering for the coordination of the work of republican security structures and, likewise, organizing cooperation between republican law enforcement structures and federal units on the territory of the republic,” and “directly tak[ing] part in organizing special operations involving members of the MVD of the Chechen Republic.” See Andrei Pilipchuk, “Alu Alkhanov: ‘You don’t need to teach us anymore how to live’” (АлуАлханов: «Нассейчасненадоучить, какжитьдальше»), interview for, March 21, 2005, reproduced at (accessed June 18, 2009).

[6]See, for example, Center Demos, “Chechnya. Life at War,” Moscow, 2007, p. 150.

[7]Ibid., p. 54. See also “Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya strongman, installed as president,” New York Times, April 5, 2007, (accessed June 23, 2009); and Marcus Bensmann,“The Idi Amin of the Caucasus?”, 2007, (accessed May 26, 2009).

[8] See, for example, Memorial Human Rights Center “Impunity Mechanisms in the Northern Caucasus (2009-2010)–How They Work” (МеханизмыбезнаказанностинаСеверномКавказе (2009-2010 гг.)–какониработают),, June 18, 2010, (accessed December 10, 2010).

[9]For more information, see the following reports by Human Rights Watch: Human Rights Watch, “Widespread Torture in the Chechen Republic,” November 13, 2006,; Human Rights Watch, “What Your Children Do Will Touch Upon You,” July 2, 2009, See also Memorial Human Rights Center “Impunity Mechanisms in the Northern Caucasus (2009-2010)–How They Work” (МеханизмыбезнаказанностинаСеверномКавказе (2009-2010 гг.) – какониработают),, June 18, 2010, (accessed December 10, 2010) and other recent reports by Memorial.

[10]See, for example, the November 2010 testimonies at the trial in Vienna (Austria) on the murder of a Chechen refugee, Umar Israilov, by Dick Marty, member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and former rapporteur on human rights in the North Caucasus, and Lord Judd, member of the UK Parliament and former rapporteur on Chechnya for the  Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, as quoted in Novaya Gazeta – Anna Shpitzer and Elena Milashina, “Vienna Process ” (ВенскийПроцесс), Novaya Gazeta, December 1, 2010, (accessed December 7, 2010). See also, “Soldatov: In Chechnya there are no laws besides the will of Kadyrov” (Солдатов: «В Чечненетникакихзаконов, кромеволиКадырова»), Rosbalt, November 18, 2010, (accessed December 14, 2010).

[11]“Ramzan Kadyrov rejected the position of President of Chechnya” (РамзанКадыровотказалсяотдолжностипрезидентаЧечни),, August 12, 2010, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[12]See, for example, Natalya Nesterenko, “The female headscarf in Chechnya as an indicator of government capacity?” (ЖенскийплатоквЧечнекакиндикатордееспособностивласти?), Deutsche Welle, April 7, 2006.,,1963090,00.html (accessed December 7, 2010); Natalya Estemirova, “Male revenge” (Мужскойреванш), Novaya Gazeta, October 18, 2007, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[13]Natalya Estemirova, “Male revenge” (Мужскойреванш), Novaya Gazeta,

[14] See, for example, “Age Helps” (Возрастпомогает),, July 12, 2007, (accessed December 7, 2010); Oleg Antonenko, “Chechnya: where does the Constitution end and Sharia law begin?” (Чечня: гдекончаетсяКонституцияиначинаетсяшариат?), BBC Russia, December 26, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[15] At the same time, Kadyrov has publically condemned bride kidnapping as “a crime” that “goes against Islam, Russian law, and Chechen tradition,” noting that “each of us needs to guard the honor of Chechen women.”  “Kadyrov: Bride kidnapping is not a tradition, but a crime,” (Кадыров: Похищениеневест — этоне традиция, а преступление), Rosbalt, October 17, 2010, (accessed February 18, 2011).  See also, “R. Kadyrov demands the strengthening of work preventing bride kidnapping in the regions” (Р. Кадыровпотребовалусилитьнаместахработупопредотвращениюпохищенияневест), Government of the Chechen Republic, January 11, 2011, (accessed February 18, 2011); Lucy Ash, “Can Chechen President Kadyrov stamp out bride-stealing?” BBC, (accessed February 18, 2011).

[16]Chapter 3, Article 14 of the Family Code of the Russian Federation, “Conditions preventing the execution of marriage.”

[17]Interview with Ramzan Kadyrov, Komsomolskaya Pravda, September 24, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[18]Oleg Antonenko, “Chechnya: where does the Constitution end and Sharia law begin?” (Чечня: гдекончаетсяКонституцияиначинаетсяшариат?), BBC Russia,

[19]See, for example, “The reason for the close-range shooting of six Chechen women may have been vigilantism,” (Причинойрасстрелавупоршестичеченокмогбытьсамосуд), Postimees, November 27, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[20]Memorial Human Rights Center “On the fight for the moral cleanliness of society in Chechnya” (Оборьбезаморально-нравственнуючистотуобществавЧеченскойРеспублике),, February 21, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[21]Natalya Estemirova, “Male revenge” (Мужскойреванш), Novaya Gazeta,

[22]“What is important–the happiness of the people” (Главноесчастьенарода), Grozny Inform, November 16, 2007, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[23] The author of this report traveled to Chechnya every few months between 2003 and 2009 and witnessed this dynamic. See also Nadezhda Il’ina, “Natalya Estemirova: ‘It’s time to return many words to their original meanings’” (НатальяЭстемирова: «Поравернутьмногимсловамихизначальныйсмысл»), Journalist 2, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010); Pavel Nikulin, “Paintball on prospect Putin” (ПейнтболнапроспектеПутина),, September 13, 2010, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[24] See, for example, Memorial Human Rights Center, “On the fight for the moral cleanliness of society in Chechnya” (Оборьбезаморально-нравственнуючистотуобществавЧеченскойРеспублике),, February 21, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[25]See, for example, Oleg Antonenko, “Chechnya: where does the Constitution end and Sharia law begin?” (Чечня: гдекончаетсяКонституцияиначинаетсяшариат?), BBC Russia,

[26]Human Rights Watch telephone interview with a researcher of Memorial Human Rights Center (name withheld), December 3, 2010. See also Memorial Human Rights Center “On the fight for the moral cleanliness of society in Chechnya,”,

[27]This incident occurred when the author of this report was on a Human Rights Watch field mission to Ingushetia and Chechnya in May 2008 and wanted to enter the university to find a teacher who was her personal acquaintance.

[28]Human Rights Watch interview with two staff members of the Chechen State University in 2010 (names and dates withheld).

[29]See, for example, Oleg Antonenko, “Chechnya: where does the Constitution end and Sharia law begin?” (Чечня: гдекончаетсяКонституцияиначинаетсяшариат?), BBC Russia,

[30]“Islamization of Chechnya: myth or reality?” (ИсламизацияЧечни: миф или реальность?),, February 2, 2008, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[31]See “Islamization of Chechnya: myth or reality?” (ИсламизацияЧечни: мифилиреальность?),,

[32]See, for example, “Chechen women, dressed in an “unseemly manner” not allowed to attend holiday festivities” (Чеченок, одетых «неподобающимобразом», не пустилина праздник), Rosbalt Kavkaz, September 21, 2010, (accessed December 7, 2010); “In Chechnya, women with their heads uncovered are not permitted to attend festivities” (ВЧечнеженщинснепокрытымиголоваминепустилинапраздник), Caucasian Knot, September 21, 2010, (accessed December 7, 2010).

[33] Letter from M.S. Selimkhanov, deputy head of the government of the Chechen Republic, chief of staff for the administration of the head and government of the head of the government of the Chechen Republic to chiefs of state agencies of the Chechen Republic and chiefs of municipal districts and mayors of city districts of the Chechen Republic, January 11, 2011.


[34]At this writing, the perpetrators in the killing of Estemirova have not been held to account. Natalia Estemirova was abducted outside her home in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, on July 15, 2009, and was found shot dead in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia later that day. The circumstances of Estemirova's murder, along with a pattern of threats against her, Memorial staff members, investigative journalists, and human rights defenders in Chechnya, point to possible official involvement in or acquiescence to her murder. It is not clear, however, which steps—if any—have been undertaken by the investigation to examine possible official involvement in this crime. See Human Rights Watch, “Russia: A Year Later, No Prosecution for Estemirova Murder,” July 8, 2010, (accessed December 7, 2010). 

[35] See, for example, Natalya Estemirova, “Male revenge” (Мужскойреванш), Novaya Gazeta,;  Nadezhda Il’ina, “Natalya Estemirova: ‘It’s time to return many words to their original meanings’” (НатальяЭстемирова: «Поравернутьмногимсловамихизначальныйсмысл»), Journalist 2,

[36]In February 2008, Natalia Estemirova was appointed to chair the then newly formed Grozny Human Rights Council under the mayor of Grozny.

[37]Natalia Estemirova shared with Human Rights Watch the details of her meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov in a telephone interview in the evening of March 31, 2008 and then repeated the story in even greater detail in Moscow several days later. See also, for example, “Statement of the Representative of the Council of Memorial Human Rights Center O.P. Orlov regarding the legal claim of R.A. Kadyrov in the Tverskoi District Court of the City of Moscow regarding the defense of his honor, virtue, reputation, and compensation” (Заявление  Председателя  СоветаПравозащитногоцентра «Мемориал» О.П.ОрловаобисковомзаявленииР.А.КадыровавТверскойрайонныйсудг. Москвы «Озащитечести, достоинстве, деловойрепутации, компенсации»),, September 10, 2009, (accessed December 7, 2010);  “Vice-Head of the MVD told four versions of Estemirova’s Murder” (ЗамглавыМВДназвалчетыреверсииубийстваЭстемировой),, July 16, 2009, (accessed December 7, 2010); “Testimony of witness Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya” (ПоказаниясвидетеляЕкатериныСокирянской), Human Rights in Russia Internet Portal (ПраваЧеловекавРоссии), September 25, 2009, (December 7, 2010).  

[38]Dick Marty, “Legal Remedies for human rights violations in the North-Caucasus region,” Doc. 12276, Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, PACE, June 4, 2010, (accessed January 31, 2011).

[39]International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted December 16, 1966, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 999 U.N.T.S. 171 (entered into force March 23, 1976), ratified by Russia on October 16, 1973, art. 10 (accessed November 23, 2010).

[40] “Report of the Special Rapporteur Asma Jahangir on freedom of religion or belief on Civil and Political Rights, including the question of religious intolerance, E/CN.4/2006/5, UN Commission on Human Rights, January 9, 2006, para. 55, (accessed November 23, 2010). (accessed November 23, 2010).

[41]European Court of Human Rights, Handyside v. United Kingdom, (5493/72) Judgment of,  7 December  1976,  available at, para. 49.

[42]Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms adopted November 4, 1950, as amended by Protocols No. 11 and No. 14, amendments ratified by Russia on May 27, 2010, (accessed November 23, 2010).

[43]Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), adopted December 18,1979, G.A. Res 34/180, entered into force September 3, 1981, ratified by Russia on January 23, 1981, arts. 2 (d) and 5 (a) respectively.

[44]International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), adopted December 16, 1966, G.A. Res. 2200A (XXI), 21 U.N. GAOR Supp. (No. 16) at 52, U.N. Doc. A/6316 (1966), 999 U.N.T.S. 171, entered into force March 23, 1976,

ratified by Russia  October 16, 1973.

[45]Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted November 4, 1950, entered into force September 3, 1953, ratified by Russia May 5, 1998.  

[46]Russian Constitution, ratified by referendum December 12, 1993, entered into force on December 25, 1993. In Article 71 the Russian constitution states that the Russian Federation has jurisdiction over, among other things, “ regulation and protection of human and civil rights and freedoms.” Article 72 states that the Russian Federation has joint jurisdiction, together with constituent entities, over, among other things, “the protection of human and civil rights and freedoms.”

[47]Part 1, Chapter 11, Article 1 of the Constitution of the Chechen Republic, (accessed December 7, 2010).