IFJ Calls for Swift Delivery of Justice for Slain Activist in Chechnya

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today strongly condemned the murder of Natalya Estemirova, a prominent journalist and human rights activist who was found dead in Ingushetia, following her kidnapping on Wednesday at her home in Grozny, the Chechen capital.

"We condemn this appalling murder of Estemirova who showed remarkable courage in exposing the atrocities committed in Chechnya," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "The authorities in Russian and Chechnya must leave no stone unturned in the hunt for her killers."

According to the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), an IFJ affiliate, Natalya who worked for the Memorial human rights society and wrote for Novaya gazeta, was abducted at her home in Grozny on 15 July. Her body was later found in neighbouring Ingushetia, with gunshot wounds.

The RUJ says the journalist had been investigating atrocities committed in Chechnya the North Caucasus as a whole, convinced that "the determination and courage of those who were not prepared to put up with this lawlessness would win in the end". 

The IFJ says the public condemnations of Natalya's murder in Russia and Chechnya must translate into an uncompromising search for her killers so that they face justice.

"We have heard these well-meaning declarations after previous murders of journalists in Russia," added Boumelha. "But, the time for words has passed and only swift delivery of justice for Natalya will lend any credence to the authorities' words."

The IFJ launched in June a report "Partial Justice" highlighting the Russian authorities' dismal failure to prosecute the killings of journalists, many of whom died reporting on the conflict in Chechnya.

In a statement, the RUJ said that "we forwarded the text of that report and official letters to the Russian President, those in charge of the key ministries and government departments, expressing the hope that together we could overcome this disgraceful stain on our present existence. "The murder of Natalya Estemirova leaves us feeling angry and helpless".

For more information contact the IFJ at: + 32 2 235 2207

IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 123 countries around the world