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Author Topic: Natalia Estemirova  (Read 2707 times)
Koen
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« on: 21 July 2009, 11:15:25 »
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Natalia Estemirova: who was she?

what grabs me to this story is a person who chooses to take the hard path in life, who knew she would be killed one day, who was a loving mother but still didn't back down knowing she would make her daughter an orphan when she would finally be murdered...whi happened on July 15th 2009

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Natalia Khusainovna Estemirova (Russian: Huh?Huh?? Huh?Huh?Huh?? Huh?Huh?Huh??) (1959 or ca. 1965 – 15 July 2009) was an award-winning Russian human rights activist and board member of the Russian human rights organisation Memorial. Estemirova was abducted by unknown persons on 15 July 2009 around 8:30 a.m. from her home in Grozny, Chechnya, as she was working on "extremely sensitive" cases of human rights abuses in Chechnya. Two witnesses reported they saw Estemirova being pushed into a car shouting that she was being abducted. Her remains were found with bullet wounds in the head and chest area at 4:30 p.m. in woodland 100 metres (330 ft) away from the federal road "Kavkaz" near the village of Gazi-Yurt, Nazran.



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Born in the south Russian province of Saratov of mixed Russian-Chechen parentage, Estemirova graduated in history from Grozny University and was a History schoolteacher in the city until 1998. In 1991 she worked as a correspondent for local newspapers "The Voice" and "The Worker of Grozny".
Estemirova, the mother of a teenage daughter and the widow of a Chechen policeman, had gathered evidence on human rights violations in Chechnya ever since the beginning of the second Chechen war in 1999. In the year 2000 she became a representative for the Memorial human rights centre in Grozny.
Estemirova received the Right Livelihood Award at a ceremony in the Swedish parliament building in 2004. Along with Sergei Kovalyov, chairman of Memorial, she was awarded the Robert Schuman Medal by the Group of the European People's Party in 2005. In October 2007 she was awarded the Anna Politkovskaya Award by Reach All Women in War, a human rights organization supporting women human rights defenders in war and conflict. Estemirova had worked with investigating journalist Anna Politkovskaya and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, both of whom were also murdered, in 2006 and 2009, respectively.



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Estemirova was abducted on 15 July 2009 from her home in Grozny, Chechnya. According to Tanya Lokshina of the Moscow bureau of Human Rights Watch, unknown individuals abducted Estemirova near her house in Grozny on 15 July 2009 around 8:30 a.m. Her colleagues raised an alert when she did not come to a planned meeting and went to her home, found witnesses and questioned them. Two witnesses reportedly saw Estemirova being pushed into a car shouting that she was being abducted.

Lokshina said Estemirova was abducted as she was working on "extremely sensitive" cases of human rights abuses in Chechnya. Lokshina said that she had been targeted for her professional activities. Human Rights Watch had demanded to the Kremlin and Ramzan Kadyrov that Estemirova be returned home safely.

Vladimir Markin, press secretary for the investigative committee of the Prosecutor General of Russia, said a body of a woman with bullet wounds in the head and chest was found at 4:30 p.m. in woodland 100 m away from the federal road "Kavkaz" near the village of Gazi-Yurt, Nazran. Investigators found items belonging to Estemirova in the purse of the woman. These items were a passport, an ID of the Chechnya expert for the Human Rights Commissioner of Russia and the mandate of the penitentiary supervision public committee.



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Estemirova was "buried in line with Islamic tradition before sunset on Thursday, in a cemetery in her ancestral village, Koshkeldy, in Chechnya's Gudermes district



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The BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, stationed in Moscow, reported that Estemirova was engaged in "very important and dangerous work", investigating hundreds of cases of alleged kidnappings, torture and extra-judicial killings by Russian government troops or militias in Chechnya.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev expressed "outrage" at the murder and ordered a top-level investigation.[11] Speaking in Germany at the time of her funeral, he paid tribute to her and again pledged a thorough investigation. He said it was "obvious" to him that her murder was linked to her professional work.

The Memorial society claimed that "state terror" was to blame, calling the killing an "extrajudicial execution" by government-backed death squads. Memorial's chairman Oleg Orlov, who was voluntarily used for protection by Chechen terrorists during the Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis, claimed that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov threatened Natalia and that Medvedev is content with Kadyrov being a murderer. Orlov said in a statement: "I know, I am sure who is guilty of Natalya Estemirova's murder, we all know him -- his name is Ramzan Kadyrov." According to Orlov, shortly before the murder, Kadyrov made an open threat to her by saying: "Yes, my hands are up to the elbows in blood. And I am not ashamed of that. I will kill and kill bad people". Kadyrov denied any involvement and promised to investigate the killing personally. He condemned the killers, saying they "must be punished as the cruellest of criminals". It was later reported that in response to Orlov's accusation, Kadyrov would be suing the rights group for defamation, and would target Orlov personally in the complaint. Nurdi Nukhazhiyev, Kadyrov’s human rights ombudsman, called Orlov’s accusation “groundless and ludicrous”.

Medvedev responded to the accusation, saying the timing of the crime, a day before his trip to Germany for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, was a provocation intended to give rise to "the most primitive theories and those most disagreeable to the state". Merkel said she expressed her "outrage" over the killing in her talks with Medvedev "and made clear that everything must be done to solve this crime."

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said he was "appalled and saddened" by Estemirova's murder. UN spokeswoman Marie Okabe stated that Ban "urges the Russian authorities to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation in order to bring the perpetrators of this heinous killing to justice, and by doing so, to send a strong and unambiguous message that the targeting of human rights activists will not be tolerated." The chairman of the EPP Group in European Parliament, Joseph Daul, condemned the perpetrators and called for investigation and bringing the perpetrators to trial



a report from Natalia Estemirova from 2003:
source: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/152

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Chechnya

I would like to tell you about a woman of whose life and death, I believe, the people must know.

Her name was Zura Bitieva. She lived in a small Chechen village. During ‘95-‘96, when the Russian army occupied Chechnya, she was actively involved in anti-war protests. She was not afraid of the fatal consequences. In 1999, the Russian army again invaded Chechnya, and in February 2000 she and her son Idris, were taken into the Chernokozov prison by a Russian soldier. Conditions of this prison were appalling in their brutality. Torture, killing, assault and human degradation were all part of this institution.

Zura was a small, aged and very sick woman. But her soul and the strength of her spirit, withstood the threats and beating of her captors. She defended other inmates in prison, with this strength. Zura went on hunger strike. She was released in a very ill condition. Her friends helped her go to Turkey. But once her health was slightly better, she went back to Chechnya, and began collecting evidence of crimes committed by the Russian soldiers and militia against the peaceful citizens of Chechnya. This evidence she submitted to UN and organizations for human rights. In the middle of a spring night 2003, her house was broken into by camouflaged and masked men. These men were part of the Russian forces. They killed her, her son Idris, her husband and her brother. Her one year-old grandson was gagged and left in a puddle of blood. Only her other son, escaped death by hiding in time.

Half a year passed, and the crime has still not been investigated.

Exactly two years before this event, Islamic fundamentalists in conjunction with the Russian forces, mortally wounded human rights defender Viktor Popkov. Still, the killers have not been brought to justice, even though this is quite possible.

In spring this year, men in camouflage and masks kidnapped a defender Imran Ezhiev. The press raised a storm, and after a few days Imran was dropped and left on a dirt road. To this day, he does not know where he had been, as he was gagged and cuffed. But he does know that his kidnappers were part of the Russian forces. He was saved by the press outcry.

I suggest that whenever a human rights defender is suffering, we should hold massive press gatherings to free the defender and lead proper investigations into their arrests. I also think that the Frontline website should have current and detailed information and news of human rights defenders – to be discussed by participants of this conference.



the report from Frontline on the murder of Natalia Estemirova:
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Front Line is deeply saddened by the killing of human rights defender Ms Natalya Estemirova, member of the Grozny office of the Human Rights Centre Memorial, who was abducted and murdered by armed men on 15 July 2009. Natalya Estemirova was an award winning human rights defender who had continued to document human rights violations in Chechnya and speak out on behalf of victims and their families in the face of repeated death threats and harassment.
Further Information

"Natalya was a beacon of hope for so many amidst the ongoing violent repression in Chechnya," said Front Line Director, Mary Lawlor, " and when she spent time with us in Dublin we came to know and respect not only her dedication and bravery but her deep humanity. She is a huge loss not only to Russia, but to the human rights movement around the world."

Natalya Estemirova had been working on extremely sensitive cases of human rights abuses, investigating hundreds of cases of alleged kidnappings, torture and extra-judicial killings by Russian government troops or militias in Chechnya. She worked closely with other reporters, including Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006, and wrote articles on human rights violations committed in Chechnya for the renowned newspaper “Novaya Gazeta.”

On 15 July 2009, Natalya Estemirova was abducted at around 8.30 am near her apartment building in Grozny. According to testimonies of several witnesses, she was seized by several armed men who drove a white VAZ-2107 model car. As she was pushed into the car, she managed to shout that she was being kidnapped. According to the staff members of Memorial, Natalya Estemirova was on the way to a business trip to the Stavropol region of Russia. Her colleagues started to worry when she didn't arrive at the scheduled meetings. The same day at approximatively 5.20 pm, Natalya Estemirova was found dead near Nazran in Ingushetia with evidence of two shots to the head.

On the evening of 15 July 2009, Memorial issued a statement in which its chairman, Oleg Orlov, accused the President of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, of involvement in the murder of Natalya Estemirova. The Memorial statement also alleged that President Kadyrov had previously threatened Natalya with death and underlined that Memorial had been aware that their latest communications “concerning new abductions, unlawful execution and the public killings in one of the Chechen villages provoked the anger of high level Chechen officials.”

Front Line believes that Natalya Estemirova was killed because of her peaceful and legitimate human rights work in particular her defence of victims of human rights abuses in Chechnya. Front Line is gravely concerned that the murder of Natalya Estemirova forms part of an ongoing pattern of extrajudicial executions of human rights defenders in Russia which have been carried out with almost total impunity.

The murders of human rights defenders, Mr Stanislav Markelov, Ms Anastasya Babyrova and Mr Magomed Yevloyev in the last 12 months illustrate the vulnerability and the lack of protection of Russian human rights defenders. Front Line welcomes the condemnation of this brutal killing by President Kadyrov. However, in response to his statement that he "will take personal charge of the investigation," Front Line stresses the importance of an independent impartial investigation into the death of Natalya Estemirova.

Natalya Estemirova spent several months with Front Line in Dublin in 2005/6 as part of our rest and respite programme for human rights defenders at risk. She had been working to document human rights violations in Chechnya throughout the conflict and enjoyed the opportunity to spend some time with her daughter in a safe environment. However, she remained committed to returning to her work in Grozny in spite of repeated threats against her.

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« Reply #1 on: 21 July 2009, 11:58:04 »
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Frontline Defenders

http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/


Natalia Estemirova in her beloved Chechnya

Human rights activist Natalia Estemirova murdered in Russia || Amnesty International Canada

interview with Amnesty International in 2008

Honoring Natalia Estemirova

Human Rights Watch honour video

Natalia Estemirova, a top human rights activist in the troubled Russian republic of Chechnya and a close colleague of Human Rights Watch, was abducted near her home in Grozny on the morning of July 15, 2009, carried off in a car as people on a nearby balcony heard her call for help. Her body was found later that day in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia.
Estemirova was a researcher with the leading Russian human rights group Memorial for a decade and had worked closely with Human Rights Watch, including on its recent investigations into the punitive killings and house burnings against people suspected by Chechen authorities of having links to rebels.
In 2007 she was given the Human Rights Watch Defender Award. This video was presented to introduce her work.
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« Reply #2 on: 23 July 2009, 04:20:22 »
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more news:

source: http://www.cafebabel.com/eng/article/30786/murder-russia-journalist-estemirova-eu-reacts.html

source: http://www.casavaria.com/cafesentido/2009/07/15/3599/human-rights-activist-estemirova-murdered-in-chechnya/
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Human Rights Activist Estemirova Murdered in Chechnya

Natalya Estemirova, from the Russian human rights organization, the Memorial Human Rights Center, was kidnapped today while leaving her home in Grozny, the Chechen capital, and later found dead. She reportedly shouted to bystanders “This is a kidnapping!” No one was able to intervene, as four armed men grabbed her and put her into a white automobile.

Estemirova, who had worked with assassinated investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya and was a winner of the , was a vocal critic of the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, who is accused of widespread human rights abuses, political killings and war crimes. Russian authorities, from the Putin era and into the Medvedev era, have refused to fully investigate allegations against Kadyrov, preferring to cast him as a patriotic hardliner unwilling to let Chechnya secede from the Russian Federation.

Kidnapped while leaving her home in Grozny, Chechnya, in the morning, her body was found at 17:20 local time (13:20 GMT) in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, near the city of Nazran, according to Russia’s ITAR-TASS news agency. Madina Khadziyeva, a spokeswoman for the regional interior ministry told the press the victim had two wounds to the head and that “it was clear she had been murdered in the morning”.

Natalya Estemirova, a close friend and investigative colleague of Anna Politkovskaya, was one of the most prominent human rights campaigners still active in Chechnya. Politkovskaya was murdered on then President Vladimir Putin’s birthday, leading to widespread speculation it was meant to send a sign of allegiance to Putin, who backs Kadyrov’s hardline regime in Chechnya and had been openly critical of reporting by the crusading journalist.

Numerous critics both inside and outside of Russia have alleged that a shadowy network of political figures aligned with Pres. Putin —whose administration employed more active and former spies than any Russian government on record— was conspiring to eliminate critics and consolidate the Putin-centered power bloc that installed Kadyrov in Chechnya. Putin was initially dismissive of the significance of Politkovskaya’s murder, a reaction that shocked many, including political allies.

Now, various groups are calling for a full accounting of Russian political assassinations throughout the post-Soviet era, many of which have never been fully prosecuted or resolved. Human Rights Watch today “urged the Russian government to launch a full, independent, and transparent investigation into Estemirova’s murder”. The HRW statement reads:

    “The Russian authorities should take every possible step to bring Natalia Estemirova’s killers to justice,” said Kenneth Roth, director of Human Rights Watch. “It seems to be open season on anyone trying to highlight the appalling human rights abuses in Chechnya. It’s high time the Russian government acted to stop these killings and prosecute those responsible.”

Is Russia getting away with murder in Chechnya? There has been triumphalist recasting of the entire Chechen conflict by Russian authorities in Moscow, who now say the resistance is dead and Chechnya is firmly aligned with the Russian Federation. But throughout the process of “resolution”, the assassination of activists, lawyers, and dissidents, has been a persistent stain on Russia’s Chechnya policy.

The pattern is so persistent and visible that Vladimir Putin has alleged it is part of a conspiracy by his political enemies to destabilize the Russian Federation. Some allege the underlying security strategy for Chechnya was to use overwhelming, indiscriminate and brutal force against anyone who would impede outright military reconquest by the Russian military. Putin often justified military and paramilitary actions critics called war crimes as an aggressive counter-terrorism effort to secure Chechnya.

According to the Huffington Post:

    A report was released on the same day as Estemirova’s killing, which calls for Russian officials, including Prime Minister Putin, to be held accountable for crimes while they have been in office.


Today, President Dmitry Medvedev expressed outrage at the killing and pledged a thorough prosecution. A spokeswoman told the press the president views as evident the possible connection between her murder and her professional work. Medvedev will now be under pressure to demonstrate that his administration really is serious about prosecuting such political killings, though specific pronouncements on the process of the investigation or the security officials who will lead it have not been given.

But in powerfully ill-fated timing, Pres. Medvedev was in Sochi today, visiting with political and military leaders from Ingushetia, and praising the “success” of security operations to crush a separatist movement he termed “terrorist”.

According to Radio Free Europe:

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said after meeting near Sochi with acting Ingushetian President Rashid Gaysanov that security forces have had “success” in their counterterrorism operation against Islamic militants in Ingushetia, RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service reports.

    Medvedev did not specify what he meant by success or where it was achieved.


The wave of violence includes a recent assassination attempt on the life of Ingushetian president Yunus-Bek Yevkurov. He survived the attack, but had to turn over power temporarily to Gaysanov. Medevedev has long been seen as part of the Putin bloc of power and an heir to Putin’s security policies. Russian military interventions in the Caucasus region have raised fears —and allegations— of the kind of abuses seen in the Chechen conflict.

There is concern Russian authorities have sought to further harden their security stance after making nice with US president Barack Obama, who while visiting Russia met with human rights campaigners and said the US was committed to seeing the spread of “universal values”, commentary many in Russia saw as open criticism of the Putin-Medvedev power bloc and its much maligned security policies.

The Guardian newspaper, for instance, is reporting:

    The timing of her murder follows Barack Obama’s first visit to Moscow last week as US president. Obama met with Russian human rights activists and set out the US’s commitment to “universal values”.

    The Kremlin responded with hardline pronouncements, with the president, Dmitry Medvedev, visiting the breakaway Georgian republic of South Ossetia on Monday. The trip appeared to be a direct rebuff to Obama who had said that both Georgia and Ukraine should be free to choose their own leaders.


Critics and dissidents have intensified their complaints of government interference with media and with rights campaigners and non-governmental investigations over the last decade. Questioning whether Estemirova’s murder is more evidence of “impunity” for political murders in Russia, the press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) today praised Estemirova for her work with the group:

    Reporters Without Borders is appalled and saddened by today’s murder of former journalist Natalia Estemirova, the Russian human rights NGO Memorial’s representative in Chechnya. …

    Estemirova helped Reporters Without Borders conduct a fact-finding visit to Russia’s three Caucasian republics – Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan – in March. The information and analyses she shared with Reporters Without Borders reinforced our conviction that the Caucasus is on the brink of chaos and that human rights activists like her are bravely filling the gap left by a dwindling independent press.


RSF also demanded of Russia that: “The authorities must publicly condemn this murder and demonstrate a real determination to combat impunity.” RSF recently sent an open letter to Pres. Obama, urging him to call on Russian officials, during his meetings with Pres. Medvedev, PM Putin and others, to call to account all those responsible for violence against the press. The letter noted “According to our research, at least 20 journalists have been killed in connection with their work since Vladimir Putin became president in March 2000.”

This month alone, Estemirova was actively denouncing alleged involvement of Chechen security forces in a number of murders, including the home-invasion murder of Madina Iunusova, a young widow whose husband had been killed in a “police action” in Chechnya. In another case, Rizvan Albekov and his son Aziz were abducted by police, and subsequently gunned down with automatic weapons in what was intended to be an “exemplary punishment”.

According to the Spanish newspaper El País, the kidnappers put their prisoners on display in front of  a group of young men, ordered Albekov to confess his guilt in aiding Chechen rebels, then opened fire when he indicated he had not. They allegedly then threatened to do the same to anyone who had aided the rebels.

Estemirova had accused Kadyrov and his cronies of running sinister brothels filled with sex slaves, kept prisoner by threat of violence, and forced to service the soldiers who serve Kadyrov’s interests. She allegedly told a fellow journalist that Kadyrov had sought to strike fear into her in a private interview in 2008, adding that the authoritarian Chechen president seemed to her to be a “genuine idiot” and that his regime existed simply to serve the whims of his power.

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