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4 Years On, Probe Into Killing of Activist Estemirova Lingers

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Four years since human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was abducted and killed in Chechnya, authorities and her colleagues on Monday traded conflicting reports about the inquiry into the unsolved murder.

MOSCOW, July 15 (RIA Novosti) – Four years since human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was abducted and killed in Chechnya, authorities and her colleagues on Monday traded conflicting reports about the inquiry into the unsolved murder.

Estemirova, an outspoken critic of the Chechen authorities, was abducted in the regional capital Grozny on July 15, 2009, and was later found shot dead in neighboring Ingushetia.

Estemirova’s colleague from the Memorial human rights group, Alexander Cherkasov, told Russian media on Monday that the probe into the high-profile murder had stalled following four years of investigation.

The Investigative Committee responded with a denial, adding that “the investigation has been prolonged till August 15, 2013.”

According to the investigators’ statement released Monday, Estemirova was killed for her reporting about suspected Chechen militant Alkhazur Bashayev’s alleged recruitment of rebels and attack on the family of a Moscow businessman. Estemirova’s killing was also aimed at discrediting the regional authorities, the statement said.

Bashayev was allegedly killed by federal forces months after Estemirova’s murder. Bashayev’s brother, Anzor, has fled to France where he was granted political asylum. French authorities refused to extradite him to Russia, where he is wanted in connection with Estemirova's murder.

Memorial, the rights group Estemirova worked with, said it had obtained a DNA sample from Anzor Bashayev. The sample showed that neither he nor his brother had DNA matching samples of sweat found on Estemirova's clothes.

The investigators have been reporting progress in the case throughout the inquiry, but Estemirova’s colleagues from Memorial have repeatedly denied findings by investigators as groundless, citing an independent inquiry.

 

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