In Chechnya, a renowned human rights activist and outspoken critic of the abuses committed during the Chechen wars was kidnapped and killed Wednesday. Natalya Estemirova’s death has sparked international outrage and marks the second such slaying of a Russian rights activist this year.


The fight for free speech and human rights in Russia suffered another devastating blow on July 15, when the body of Chechnya’s most outspoken human-rights activist was found dumped by the side of a road. Natalya Estemirova, 50, had been killed execution-style, shot in the head and chest, just hours after being kidnapped from outside her home in Grozny, the capital of the republic situated in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region. The murder has sparked international outrage and prompted calls for a closer look at the atrocities that have been committed in the North Caucasus, and in Chechnya especially, since the start of Russia’s Chechen wars in 1994.

Estemirova, a researcher and activist for the highly respected Russian human-rights-defense organization Memorial, was abducted early Wednesday morning as she was walking to catch a bus to work. According to Memorial head Oleg Orlov, who spoke with neighbors who had witnessed the kidnapping, she was hustled into a white car by four unknown men. Eight hours later, police found her body in the violence-plagued neighboring republic of Ingushetia.

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