ECHR deems Russia’s investigation into Natalya Estemirova’s murder inadequate

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has handed down its judgement in the case of Estemirova versus Russia — an application lodged against the Russian Federation by Svetlana Estemirova, the sister of the prominent human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, who was abducted and murdered 11 years ago.

The ECHR concluded that there is no evidence of Russian state involvement in Estemirova’s murder. However, the court also ruled that the Russian authorities failed to investigate Estemirova’s abduction and killing effectively. In addition, the ECHR noted that Russia didn’t provide the court with a full copy of the investigation file. 

The European Court also noted that the Russian authorities have yet to close the investigation into Estmirova’s murder, and said that Russia should, as far as possible, establish the circumstances of the crime, and identify and punish those responsible.

In its ruling, the ECHR awarded Svetlana Estemirova 20,000 euros (about $23,600) in compensation.

Natalya Estemirova worked for the Grozny branch of the human rights organization Memorial. On July 15, 2009, she was abducted in Chechnya’s capital. Her body was found in the neighboring region of Ingushetia later that same day.

Memorial associates Estemirova’s murder with her human rights work. Memorial chairman Oleg Orlov has blamed Ramzan Kadyrov for her killing, alleging that Chechnya’s leader considered her a personal enemy. Kadyrov later sued Orlov for these claims. 

The Russian Investigative Committee named militant Alkhazur Bashayev as the likely murderer, saying that he took revenge on Estemirova for leveling accusations against him in the press. Bashayev was put on an international wanted list in 2010. However, according to the ECHR, his whereabouts remain unknown.

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