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    Russian human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov said on Saturday he is ready to face Ramzan Kadyrov in court over his accusation that the Chechen president was behind the killing of activist Natalya Estemirova.

    MOSCOW, July 18 (RIA Novosti) - Russian human rights campaigner Oleg Orlov said on Saturday he is ready to face Ramzan Kadyrov in court over his accusation that the Chechen president was behind the killing of activist Natalya Estemirova.

    "As a citizen of the Russian Federation, how can I not be ready [to go to court]? You need to answer for your words. I will answer for my words in court," the head of the Memorial human rights group said.

    Estemirova, who had been investigating kidnappings and disappearances in Chechnya for Memorial, was abducted and murdered on Wednesday in the south Russian republic.

    In a radio interview the following day, Orlov said Kadyrov had personally threatened Estemirova over her work, and that people subordinate to the Chechen leader had murdered her.

    As spokesman for the Chechen president said on Friday that Kadyrov would take Orlov to court over the accusations.

    "The president's lawyer, Andrei Krasnenkov, will file a lawsuit in line to defend the honor, integrity and business reputation of the president of the Chechen Republic in regard to a statement made by the director of the Memorial center, Oleg Orlov, accusing the president of murdering the human rights activist Natalya Estemirova," the spokesman said.

    He said the claim would be filed in Moscow, where Memorial is registered, and that a statement on the slander allegations would be submitted the Moscow police department.

    "It is proper that Ramzan Kadyrov has decided to settle this dispute within the framework of the law," Orlov said on Saturday.

    In a statement published on Memorial's website on Wednesday, Orlov said: "I know, I am certain who is to blame for the murder of Natasha Estemirova. We all know this person. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the Chechen Republic."

    In an interview with Radio Liberty the following day, Orlov said: "I have no doubt that behind the murder of Estemirova stand people subordinate to Ramzan Kadyrov, who indulge in murders, violence, and unlawfulness on Russian territory, and also outside Russia."

    Kadyrov's press service said on Friday the Chechen leader had called Orlov, and said: "You are not a prosecutor or a judge, and so your statements about my guilt are, to put it mildly, unethical and insulting to me."

    Orlov replied that he had not accused Kadyrov personally of killing Estemirova, but had meant that, as president, he was responsible for crime in the republic, which saw two brutal separatist wars in the 1990s and early 2000s, Chechnya's Segodnya news agency later reported.

    Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has dismissed claims that Kadyrov was behind the murder as "primitive."

    Estemirova's body was found on Wednesday afternoon in Ingushetia, which borders on Chechnya. Her body had bullet wounds to the head and chest, suggesting an execution-style shooting.

    Estemirova had earlier worked with journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was shot dead in Moscow in October 2006, and human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was killed in the Russian capital in January of this year. Both Politkovskaya and Markelov had been involved in investigations into human rights abuses in Chechnya.

    Kadyrov, who fought against federal forces in the first Chechen war before switching sides in 1999, has been president of Chechnya since February 2007. His father and former Chechen leader Akhmad Kadyrov was killed in a terrorist bomb attack in Grozny in May 2004.

     

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