Saturday, July 18, 2009

Memorial interrupts its work in Chechnya

After the kidnapping and murder of Natalya Estemirova some attention is once again being paid to Chechnya. Not a lot. After all, no football team was expected to visit Grozny and not celeb will be spotted having a jolly time in the Chechnyan mountains.

The bad news is that Memorial, the organization that Ms Estemirova was working for when she was murdered, has decided to suspend its operations in Chechnya, citing the understandable reason that they cannot jeopardize their employees' lives.

Oleg Orlov, Director of Memorial, has already accused the Chechnyan President, Ramzan Kadyrev, who, in turn, pronounced himself to be shocked by the murder and promised a top-level investigation. It is not clear whether this will be a separate investigation from the one President Medvedev has promised.

President Kadyrev has also stated that there was no benefit to his government from Ms Estemirova's murder, which may well have been carried out by people who wanted to undermine it as well as the government of Ingushetia. Judging by some responses on the BBC Russian Service website, this theory is gaining ground at least among people who take part in those discussions. Another version of it is that the murder was carried out by Western secret services (any one will do) for reasons not specified. Presumably, just because everybody hates Russia and wants to do it down.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for President Kadyrev expressed the government's regret at Memorial's decision, adding that it was a clearly politicized one.

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