Brooks Foreign Policy Review: Memorial to Natalya Estemirova, Russian Human Rights Activist

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Press Release: July 16, 2009

West Palm Beach, Florida — Today, Webster Brooks, Director of Brooks Foreign Policy Review expressed his profound sadness at the murder of Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova.  “This is yet another trajic murder of a brave and valliant woman who wanted nothing more than justice for the people of Chechnya. She will be remembered by millions of people in Russia and around the world” said Brooks. 

Ms. Estemirova’s was found dead in the Russian republic of  Ingushetia with bullet holes to the head after being abducted in Grozny, Chechnya. Ms. Estemirova worked for Memorial – a human rights organization in Russia and was deeply involved in chronicling human rights abuses in Chechya that included kidnappings and mass executions. Estemirova was killed on the same day as the release of a report she helped research with Human Rights Watch that concluded  Russian officials, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, should be held accountable for crimes committed on their watch. A single mother, Estemirova worked with two other top rights activists, rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and reporter Anna Politkovskaya, who also have been killed. 

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev expressing his condolences, and ordered the country’s top investigative official “to take all necessary measures” to find the killers. His press spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said Estemirova’s murder appeared to be related to her work. In 2007, Estemirova was the first recipient of an Anna Politkovskaya memorial award, given by the Reach All Women in War charity, and received other European awards for her work. She had collected evidence of rights abuses in Chechnya since 1999, when the second separatist war began in the province after the Soviet collapse of 1991.

 Ms. Estemirova’s funeral service was held on Thursday, July 16 in Grozny, the Chechen capital. She is survived by a 16 year-old daughter.

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