Six years ago today, we lost a close friend – Natalia Estemirova (or Natasha as we called her among friends), RAW in WAR’s first Anna Politkovskaya Award winner. Natalia Estemirova, a courageous human rights defender from Russia’s Chechen Republic, was abducted in front of several witnesses outside of her home in Grozny on 15 July 2009. Her body was found later that day in the neighbouring Republic of Ingushetia.
Until today, nobody has been brought to justice for this crime, despite promises by the then Russian President Dmitriy Medvedev and the then Head of the Investigation Committee to take the investigation under their control. The official investigation has conducted dozens of interviews and spent hundreds of hours of investigative work but without results. The desire to uphold the official version, which puts the blame for the murder at the hands of anti-government fighters, has blighted attempts to reveal the truth.
Natalia was a warm-hearted, generous person, who spoke truth to power – wherever she saw injustice – in order to protect human rights and human dignity.