Natalia Estemirova, a journalist and human rights advocate in Chechnya, a Russian republic, was abducted from her home on Wednesday and found dead in a nearby republic. Tanya Lokshina, a Human Rights Watch researcher in Moscow, told Reuters “There is no shred of doubt that she was targeted due to her professional activity.” Estemirova documented kidnappings and killings in Checnya for more than a decade and was affiliated with Memorial, a human rights organization. Last year, Estemirova challenged a law requiring women to wear head scarves.
Chechen President Kadryov said he would “spare no expense” to find Estemirova’s killer, reported the New York Times even though some believe Kadyrov may be involved in the crime. Oleg Orlov, chairman of Memorial, said Kadyrov “personally threatened Natalia [last year], told her that her hands would be covered in blood, and that he destroys bad people. We have no doubt that her killing was ordered by Ramzan Kadyrov,” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Lokshina told the Pittsburg Post-Gazette that “during the past month, the level of human rights abuses has been staggering” and that it “seems that the law enforcement and security agencies under the control of President Kadyrov are attempting to suppress an insurgency which is suddenly on the rise.” According to Memorial, there have been at least 50 kidnappings and 4 deaths in Chechnya so far this year.