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Russia human rights advocate Estemirova slain in Chechnya

[JURIST] Russian human rights activist Natalia Estemirova [BBC obituary] was kidnapped in Grozny Wednesday morning and shot to death, according to news reports. Estemirova, 50, investigated allegations of human rights violations in Chechnya for about 10 years. Estemirova's body, which had been shot multiple times, was found Wednesday afternoon [Moscow Times report] in nearby Ingushetia. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev [official profile] said he was outraged [AFP report] and ordered an inquiry [BBC report] into Estemirova's killing. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] condemned Estemirova's killing and urged Russian leaders to ensure her killers are brought to justice [press release]. A Kremlin spokesperson said a motive for Estemirova's slaying was likely linked to her activism. Estemirova worked for Russian human rights organization Memorial [advocacy website, in Russian], which has accused [press release, in Russian] Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov [BBC profile] of responsibility in her death.

Estemirova is one of several rights advocates to be gunned down in Russia in recent years. In January, Russian human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov was shot and killed [JURIST report] in Moscow. Markelov represented journalist Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary], who was shot to death [JURIST report] in October 2006. In April, Russian Human Rights Commissioner Vladimir Lukin [official profile] expressed concern [JURIST report] that activists in Russia were being attacked with greater frequency. According to HRW, more than 100 European Court of Human Rights [official website] judgments have found that Russia is responsible for grave human-rights violations in Chechnya.

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