(Moscow) – Russian authorities have failed to bring to justice those responsible for the murder 10 years ago of Natalia Estemirova, Chechnya’s most prominent rights defender, Human Rights Watch said today in a joint statement with Russian and international human rights groups.
“We are still waiting for the Russian government to carry out an effective investigation into the murder of our friend and colleague, Natalia Estemirova,” said Tanya Lokshina, associate Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The government’s inaction in this heinous crime is a black stain that perpetuates human rights abuses in Chechnya.”
On the morning of July 15, 2009, Natalia Estemirova, who worked in the Grozny Office of Memorial Human Rights Center, a leading Russian human rights organization, was forced into a car by unidentified security personnel near her home in Grozny. She was shot dead later that day in the neighboring North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia. Her killing elevated the climate of fear in Chechnya and sent a chilling warning to local residents who might seek assistance from human rights defenders.
Estemirova, a close colleague of Human Rights Watch, had received the organization’s annual award for extraordinary activism in 2007.