The United States is deeply saddened by reports of the abduction and murder of respected human rights activist Natalya Estemirova. We call upon the Russian government to bring those responsible to justice.
A member of the NGO Memorial HRC in the North Caucasus, Natalya Estemirova was uncompromising in her willingness to reveal the truth regardless of where that might lead. She was devoted to shining a light on human rights abuses, particularly in Chechnya, and received a number of international awards for her brave work, including the 2007 Anna Politkovskaya prize by the Nobel Women’s Initiative and awards from the Swedish and European parliaments. We extend our deepest sympathies to her family.
Today we honor the life and work of Natalya Estemirova, a brave Russian human rights defender and journalist, who was abducted and murdered in the North Caucasus region of Russia on July 15, 2009.
Ms. Estemirova devoted her career to bringing awareness and pressing for accountability for human rights abuses, particularly in Chechnya. The international community justifiably gave Ms. Estemirova a number of awards for her important work. A year has passed since her tragic death, yet those responsible for this horrible crime have yet to be brought to justice. We will continue to shine the spotlight on this case as part of our efforts to protect the brave journalists and civil society activists across the globe who, like Natalya, speak out against abuses and work to secure fundamental freedoms for their fellow citizens.
Statement by National Security Council Spokesman Mike Hammer on the kidnapping and murder of Russian Human Rights Activist Natalya Estemirova
We are deeply disturbed and saddened by the abduction and murder of respected human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, abducted from Chechnya and found in Ingushetiya today. This brutal slaying is especially shocking coming one week after President Obama met with civil society activists in Moscow, including those from Natalya’s organization – Memorial. Such a heinous crime sends a chilling signal to Russian civil society and the international community and illustrates the tragic deterioration of security and the rule of law in the North Caucasus over the last several months.
We call upon the Russian government to bring to justice those responsible for this outrageous crime and demonstrate that lawlessness and impunity will not be tolerated.