Well, this is rich.
MOSCOW — The spokesman for Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s strongman leader, says his boss will sue a top human rights organization for claiming he was behind the brazen slaying of one of its activists.
Natalya Estemirova, an activist for the group Memorial, had exposed dozens of rights abuses in the Russian region of Chechnya. Her bullet-ridden body was found Wednesday, hours after she was kidnapped by four men not far from her home in the Chechen capital, Grozny.
Oleg Orlov, Memorial’s chief, said Thursday: “I know who is guilty of Natalya’s murder. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov.” Orlov said he meant Kadyrov carried broader responsibility rather than ordering her murder.
Kadyrov’s spokesman Alvi Karimov said Kadyrov’s lawyer is preparing a lawsuit “to defend his dignity.”
Where could Memorial employees have gotten the idea that Kadyrov had anything to do with Estemirova’s death?
Oh, right — Kadyrov himself.
[…] the Chechen president offered Estemirova a position as the head of a civil society advisory commission for the city of Grozny. She accepted. It was not in Estimirova’s character to shut up, though. Even while advising the government of Kadyrov, she did not stop writing reports for Memorial. The one about Kadyrov forbidding girls to come to universities without head scarves made him really angry. In March 2008, Kadyrov called her to come to a city office and yelled at her. Estemirova was fired. He threatened her multiple times, she later told us, but her Memorial friends “decided to keep that out of publicity, as Memorial’s work in Chechnya would stop the moment we decided otherwise.”
Estemirova worked in the Caucus, arguably one of the most macho regions of macho Russia. She investigated human rights abuse in Chechnya. Although internationally, consensus has already been reached and “pro-government” figures are thought as the likely culprits, the truth is, this woman could have crossed just about anyone. In a region with a history of war and ongoing violence, plenty of people may have wanted Natalia Estemirova dead.