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Chechen president sues activist
Kadyrov files defamation case for being blamed for Natalya Estemirova's murder.
Last Modified: 25 Sep 2009 12:36 GMT
Natalya Estemirova was found dead with bullet wounds in Ingushetia in July [AFP]

A leading Russian rights activist has appeared in court to defend himself against a defamation case brought by Chechnya's president.

Oleg Orlov, chairman of human rights group Memorial, had blamed Ramzan Kadyrov for the abduction and murder of award-winning activist Natalya Estemirova.

Kadyrov, who denied the allegation, filed court action against Orlov at a Moscow court on Friday.

Orlov, speaking outside the courtroom, said:  "There is no doubt of the political guilt of Ramzan Kadyrov in the murder of ... Estemirova."

Estemirova, a 50-year-old single mother, was found dead in the city of Nazran in Ingushetia, which neighbours Chechnya in Russia' volatile Caucasus region, on July 15.

'Destabilising Chechnya'

Her body, which was found with two shot wounds to the head, was discovered just hours after she was seized from her home in Grozny, the Chechen capital.

In depth

 Chechen president blamed for activist's death 
 Chechnya's battle for independence
 Witness: Chechen fighters
 Witness: Chechen syndrome
 Witness: Lost children of Chechnya

Orlov, in a posting on Memorial's website after her body was found, had said: "I know, I am sure of it, who is guilty for the murder of Natalya ... His name is Ramzan Kadyrov".

But Kadyrov denied any involvement, and said he would oversee the investigation into her killing.

The Chechen president did not appear in court on Friday, but Andrei Krasnenkov, his lawyer, said Orlov's comments were destabilising Chechnya.

Chechnya and other parts of the Russian Caucasus remain the site of a deadly insurgency led by Muslim fighters against the pro-Kremlin local authorities, who in turn have been accused of human rights abuses.

Security forces are being killed in clashes with fighters on an almost daily basis.

Ongoing attacks against human rights activists has led Memorial and other human rights organisations to suspend their operations in Chechnya.

Source:
Agencies
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