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Q&A: Murder of Chechen activist
Al Jazeera speaks to friend of murdered activist Natalia Estemirova about her death.
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2009 21:07 GMT

Award-winning activist, Estemirova, 50, who worked for Russia's oldest rights group, Memorial, was found murdered a day after being abducted from her home in Chechnya [AFP]

Al Jazeera spoke to Elena Kudimova, the sister of murdered Russian journalist Anna Polikovskaya, about the death of Natalia Estemirova, a Chechen human rights activist found murdered after being seized from her home in Grozny, Chechnya.  

Elena is involved in the Anna Polikovskaya award for female human rights defenders from the world's conflict zones, of which Estemirova was the first winner.

Al Jazeera: Natalia was friends with your sister and worked with her - how much of a blow to human rights in Russia is this death for you?

Elena: It's another terrible loss for the human rights movement in Russia, unfortunately not the first, even this year.

I made friends with her while she was here in London last summer. I met her and her only daughter, Lana, few more times here and in Moscow.

Natasha volunteered to gather for me some memoirs of Anna from the people in Chechnya that Anna helped in some way or another.

When I was talking to my mum yesterday, she was crying, she also met Natalia and her daughter at Anna's home when they visited Moscow.

You were involved in nominating Natalia for the first Anna Politkovskaya award –why did Natalia stand out? What is the point of the award?  

Natalia was an obvious choice for the first nomination for the award.

She helped Anna a lot while she travelled to Chechnya to investigate various cases.

Anna even stayed at her house from time to time, because she needed a safe place to sleep at night during the war.

Natalia was doing the same big job for people of Chechnya as Anna was doing until the day of her slaughter in Moscow almost three years ago.  

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev praised Natalia for telling truth – what do you think of his comments? Do you think they are genuine? How do they compare to the comments Putin made over the death of your sister?

I want to believe that his first reaction and his words yesterday were sincere, although today he was talking about provocation on the eve of his visit abroad.

At least he made his comments immediately, not after several days as Putin did. 

Who do you think killed Natalia - Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov? What do you think of Medyedev’s vow to find Natalia’s killer?

I don't want to point my finger. It's the job of the authorities to find the killers.

Until now they failed to find the real masterminders and killers in many cases, including my sister's.

There is lack of political will.

If they really want, they can do it, they have sufficient means. If they want to show the world that Russia is a really great power. 

Kadyrov said he does not kill women – but how much more vulnerable are women working in the fields of journalism and human rights activism in Russia and the Northern Caucus?  

I think every person working in the field of journalism and human rights in Russia is very vulnerable, be him a man or a woman.

What’s the next step for you and the Anna Politkovskaya award?

We have to carry on with the award, because there are other courageous women in different countries that deserve our support and appreciation, even admiration.

Next step for me? To keep Anna's memory alive by whatever means.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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