Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Natalia Estemirova

From Mark Franchetti @ The Australia:
Human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, who was abducted from her Chechen home last week and murdered, had been forced to flee to Britain last year after the republic's President personally threatened her, according to colleagues.

Estemirova left Chechnya for four months because she no longer felt safe after a heated exchange with President Ramzan Kadyrov. He was angry that she had challenged his order that women should wear headscarves in public in the predominantly Muslim territory.

Estemirova, a former teacher, argued back but later felt vulnerable. Memorial, the Russian human rights organisation she had worked for since 1999, felt it was too dangerous for her to stay in Chechnya, so she moved to Britain in March last year but returned months later.

In the fortnight before her death, Estemirova reported on other abductions, the alleged murder of a Chechen woman suspected of links to rebels and an arson campaign that razed the homes of militants' relatives. "There was no one like Natalia in Chechnya," a friend said. "That's why they killed her. Now we won't hear of such crimes any more."

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