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On the Killing of Russian Activist Natalia Estemirova, July 15, 2009

Activists and other supporters of Freedom and Justice,

On Wednesday, July 15, 2009, Natalia Estemirova, 50, activist and mother, was murdered in Russia. The following stories and protests cover just some of the news following her very unfortunate killing. The Human Rights group, Memorial, stated "saying it straightfoward, Russia is suffering from state terror."

This murder follows the murders of other activists and journalists, and people who have called for the improvement of human rights in Russia over the last several years.

Let us lend our voices to the international protests.

1. send a note of support to Memorial

2. call on President Obama to establish a bilateral commission on Russian-American relations as Memorial activists are doing in Russia.

3. call upon the United Nations to protest these murders.

arn specter, phila., Email



1. On the Killing of Natalia Estemirova, July 15, 2009

2. Report: Rights group to suspend Chechnya work, July 15, 2009

3. EU condems killing of human rights activist in Russia's Caucasus

4. Public appeal to the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and to the President of the USA Barak Obama of the representatives of the civil society. July 8, 2009


Memorial Human Rights Center, Russia, e-mail

On the Killing of Natalia Estemirova

Our friend and colleague was killed today.

For almost ten years Natalia was the leading activist of HRC Memorial in the North Caucasus, in Chechnya . She did not only collect information about violations of human rights. She was a true human rights activist standing for common people. Natalia tried to help the victims of bombings, sweep-up operations, tortures. She demanded that authorities did impossible things – stop illegal actions. And she managed to succeed believing in her right cause and rule of law. Her work made Natalia famous throughout Chechnya . People came to her for help hoping that the crimes would at least be given publicity.

Natalia was threatened many times by officials of various levels. She never ceased working feeling that she was needed in Chechyna.

Oleg Orlov, head of HRC Memorial Board, “I know for sure who is responsible for the killing of Natalia Estemirova. We all know that man. It is Ramzan Kadyrov, president of Chechen Republic . Ramzan threatened Natalia, insulted her, believed her to be his personal enemy. We don't know whether it was Ramzan himself who ordered to kill Natalia or his close associates did it to please the ruling authority. And President Medvedev seems satisfied to have a murderer as a head of one of Russia's republics.”

When Natasha made a statement about young women of Chechnya being almost forced to wear head scarves in public she was invited to an almost private talk with Ramzan Kadyrov. Natalia later shared that Kadyrov threatened her and quoted him, “My hands are indeed covered in blood. And I'm not ashamed of it. I was killing and will be killing bad people. We fight against enemies of our republic.”

We know that latest news releases about new abductions, extrajudicial executions, public shooting of people in the middle of a Chechen village prepared by Natalia caused serious indignation of high rank authorities of Chechnya .

We took the risk that was not worth it. We are guilty of it.

Saying it straightforward. Russia is suffering from state terror. We know about killings in Chechnya and in other regions. Those who try to tell the truth and express critique of the authorities are being killed. Ramzan Kadyrov made it impossible for human rights activists to work in Chechnya. Those who killed Natalia Estemirova wanted to block the flow of reliable information from Chechnya.

They seem to have succeeded in it.

Download attachment.


Report: Rights group to suspend Chechnya work

By JIM HEINTZ, Associated Press Writer – Sat Jul 18, 2009

MOSCOW – The respected Russian human rights group Memorial is stopping work at its office in the republic of Chechnya after the kidnapping and killing of one of its most daring activists, a Russian radio station quoted an official of the group as saying Saturday.
Natalya Estemirova, who had investigated executions, kidnappings and other abuses, was forced into a car outside her residence in the Chechen capital on Wednesday, witnesses say. She was found shot in the head hours later.

Ekho Moskvy radio quoted Memorial executive committee member Alexander Cherkasov as saying its office in Chechnya was being closed because of concern for the safety of other workers there.

"We have seen that the work that Natasha was involved in, the work done by our colleagues in Chechnya — documenting crimes committed by representatives of the authorities — is fatally dangerous. We can't put them at risk," he was quoted as saying

Activists blame the forces of Chechnya's president Ramzan Kadyrov for Estemirova's killing and for widespread violations of human rights. They also complain that the Kremlin, by backing Kadyrov, has created a climate of impunity that encourages abuses.

Read more.


EU condemns killing of human rights activist in Russia's Caucasus
Posted : Thu, 16 Jul 2009,
Author : DPA
Stockholm- The European Union condemned the murder of Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova of the group Memorial, whose body was found Wednesday in the Russian republic of Ingushetia. Russian authorities were urged to "swiftly and thoroughly investigate the murder of Natalya Estemirova and to bring the perpetrators to justice," an EU council presidency statement said.

Sweden on July 1 took over the rotating six-month presidency of the 27-nation bloc.

Estmemirova's murder "draws attention to the necessity of protecting human rights defenders in Russia," the statement added.

Russian news reports said Estemirova's body had multiple gunshot wounds to the head and chest.

Estemirova, 50, was abducted Wednesday morning by unknown persons after leaving her home in Grozny, the capital of the neighbouring republic of Chechnya.

Estemirova's group Memorial has reported on past and present abuses by the former Soviet state and the current Russian government.

Copyright, respective author or news agency

Public appeal to the President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev and to the President of the USA Barak Obama of the representatives of the civil society. July 8, 2009

The representatives of Russian civil society support the creation of bilateral commission on Russian-American relations.

But they expressed their concern that it was Vladislav Surkov who was appointed to be the Russian coordinator on the questions of civil society was. His name is associated with many negative tendencies of democratic developments in Russia : restraining of freedom of mass media, liquidation of competitive political system and establishing barriers blocking development of civil society.

Public activists ask the President of Russia to revise his appointment.

For the whole text of the application and for the list of the signatories (in Russian) visit Memorial site.



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