Ieva Raubisko: Investigation into Natalia Estemirova murder lacks rigour

Share
Related Topics

One year after the murder of Russian human rights activist Natalia Estemirova, her killers remain undiscovered by an investigation lacking in rigour and impartiality

Ms Estemirova, the leading researcher of human rights centre “Memorial” in Chechnya, was abducted by unidentified men in the Chechen capital Grozny, and her body dumped in neighbouring Ingushetia on 15 July last year. Her murder was condemned across the world.

The investigators first focused on cases of disappearances and extrajudicial killings that Ms Estemirova had been probing before her death, her colleagues said. Later, however, the investigators’ attention was directed mostly at rebels fighting against the pro-Moscow regime, culminating in murder charges levelled against a fighter named Alkhazur Bashayev.

Mr Bashayev, who was killed in a special operation in November 2009, allegedly disliked Ms Estemirova. Yet her colleagues at “Memorial” claim that such link is tenuous as Ms Estemirova never interviewed Mr Bashayev and never wrote any article specifically about him.

Given his death, Mr Bashayev serves as a convenient figure and helps to divert attention from the highly probable involvement of state officials and law enforcers in the activist’s murder. Thus, Ms Estemirova appears to share the fate of many of the disappeared and killed she used to defend in Chechnya: the murder investigation has effectively stalled.

Last year saw the number double of abductions and killings of people suspected of armed resistance to the regime of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov and their relatives, bringing the total number of registered kidnappings to 93. Of these 10 people have been found dead and 19 remain missing, according to a report by “Memorial”.

The abductions go seemingly unnoticed in the Russian republic where massive reconstruction has covered the physical scars of war with new roads, schools, hospitals, residential buildings, mosques, factories and other infrastructure.

The kidnappings are typically carried out by law enforcers who neither identify themselves nor present any charges against those detained. Deliberately inefficient investigations are usually the result when relatives dare to report abuses to human rights defenders and authorities.

The abducted people are often kept in illegal prisons, tortured “to obtain operative information”, and then released or officially charged with unlawful activities. Some, however, remain missing, even if their families have filed complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

One such example is the abduction of Zarema Gaisanova, a 41-year-old employee of the Danish Refugee Council, in Grozny last October.

During a special operation in the Leninsky suburb of the city, an alleged rebel fighter was killed in Ms Gaisanova’s yard, and her family house – still under reconstruction at the time – was burnt down.

Ms Gaisanova was pushed into a car and taken away by law enforcement and has been missing ever since. Her mother has filed numerous petitions and complaints locally, as well as to the European Court of Human Rights.

Yet the investigation – which has seen five different investigators change during its course in Chechnya – has not yielded any significant results.

The author is a researcher who used to work with Natalia Estemirova

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kennedy campaign for the Lib Dems earlier this year in Bearsden  

Charles Kennedy: A brilliant man whose talents were badly needed

Baroness Williams
Nick Clegg (R) Liberal Democrat Leader and former leader Charles Kennedy MP, joined the general election campaign trail on April 8, 2010  

Charles Kennedy: The only mainstream political leader who spoke sense

Tim Farron
Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview