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Russia human rights activists leaving Chechnya in wake of killings

[JURIST] Russian human rights activists and journalists are suspending their work in Chechnya [JURIST news archive] in the wake of the recent violence, according to a Tuesday Moscow Times report [text]. Rights group Memorial [advocacy website, in Russian], which employed recently murdered [JURIST report] activist Natalia Estemirova [BBC obituary], closed its Chechen office soon after her death. Memorial, which has continued work in Chechnya through other regional offices, has reported that several of its staff, including Estemirova, were being followed by unknown persons [press release, in Russian] and had received threats. Last week, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta [media website, in Russian] withdrew all of its reporters from Chechnya, saying that it was too dangerous for them to continue working there. Journalist Anna Politkovskaya [BBC obituary], murdered in 2006, was a Novaya Gazeta special correspondent working in Chechnya.

Last week, Chechen human rights activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov were found dead in the trunk of their car. Saulayeva and Dzhabrailov were taken [Moscow Times report] from the office of her organization, Let's Save the Generation, which works to aid children affected by violence in Chechnya. Their deaths came less than a month after the death of Estemirova. Memorial has accused [press release, in Russian] Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov [BBC profile] of responsibility in Estemirova's death. Kadyrov has filed a defamation suit against Memorial and claims that the recent killings are an attempt by rebels to discredit him.

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