- Caucasus - human rights - Russia
Prize-winning Russian human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was Wednesday found dead in Ingushetia after being abducted earlier in the neighbouring region of Chechnya, news agencies reported.
Her corpse, which showed signs of a violent death, was found at 5:20 pm (1320 GMT) near Ingushetia's main city Nazran, ITAR-TASS news agency said, citing the regional interior ministry.
The Interfax news agency quoted security sources as saying she had been murdered.
Her organisation, Memorial, had said that Estemirova was kidnapped earlier Wednesday in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Estemirova "was forcefully taken from her house into a car and shouted that she was being kidnapped," Memorial said in a statement, citing witnesses.
Estemirova is one of the main Caucasus-based activists for Memorial, an organisation acclaimed worldwide for its uncovering of rights abuses and distortions of history in Russia.
In 2007 she was awarded the Anna Politkovskaya prize -- named after the murdered journalist -- by the Nobel Women's Initiative, a group established by female Nobel Peace Prize laureates.
She had also been awarded by the Swedish and European parliaments, Memorial said.
Russia earlier this year ended a 10-year "counter-terrorism" operation in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region riven by two separatist wars since the fall of Communism.
But Chechnya and other parts of the Russian Caucasus remain the site of a deadly insurgency led by Islamist militants against the pro-Kremlin local authorities, who in turn have been accused of abuses in fighting the rebels.