- Caucasus - Chechnya - human rights - murder - Russia
Natalia Estemirova had scheduled an interview with FRANCE 24 at 8am on the day of her abduction at the headquarters of the NGO Memorial in Grozny. She never made it to the interview. After a few hours of no response on her phone and no word, her colleagues at Memorial raised the alarm.
A staff member at Memorial said, "We've managed to find a witness who told us that Natalia left her home at around half past eight. A car approached and she was pushed inside."
Estemirova lived in one of the most densely populated parts of Grozny and she was abducted right in front of her home. However, despite the busy neighbourhood, no witnesses have emerged who can remember the number plate of the vehicle that she was forced into or who witnessed the abduction in broad daylight.
According to Edilbek Khasmagomadov, a political analyst, "You can't rule out the possibility that the authorities could be behind Natalia's murder. Estemirova was the only person telling the truth without bearing in mind the consequences of her words."
Estemirova was investigating the kidnappings and execution of relatives of Chechen separatists - crimes imputed to employees of Chechen President Ranzam Kadyrov. Her investigations into this murky area of life in Chechnya was to be the subject of her interview with FRANCE 24.