Human rights defender abducted in Chechnya
At around 8.30 this morning, 15 July, Natalya Estemirova, from the Human Rights Centre “Memorial” was abducted in Grozny. She was seized near her home and shoved into a white car (ВАЗ-2107) – she was able only to cry out that she was being abducted. A woman had walked behind Natalya from the apartment block entrance to the place of the abduction, possibly to identify her to the assailants.
Natalya Estemirova’s whereabouts are unknown. She had had a number of meetings scheduled for today, including a trip, together with Ministry of Internal Affairs officers to the Stavropol region but nobody saw her or heard from her. Her worried colleagues from “Memorial” therefore went to her home and found witnesses of the abduction.
Natalya Estemirova is one of Memorial’s main representatives in the Caucuses and the authorities of the Chechen Republic have on more than one occasion expressed displeasure over her work. Her human rights defence activities have received acclaim and she is the laureate of many international awards. She was the first person to receive the Anna Politkovskaya Memorial Award in 2007 from the Swedish Parliament, and in 2005 the European Parliament awarded her the Robert Schuman Medal.