Natalia Estemirova, a leading human rights activist in the troubled Russian republic of Chechnya and a close colleague of Human Rights
Watch, was abducted near her home in Grozny on the morning of July 15, 2009, and carried off in a car as people on a nearby balcony heard her call out that she was being
kidnapped. She was found shot dead later that day in the neighboring republic of Ingushetia.
As a researcher with the leading Russian human rights group Memorial, Estemirova had been at the forefront of efforts to investigate human
rights abuses and seek justice for their victims for close to a decade. She worked closely with Human Rights Watch, including on its recent investigations into the
punitive killings and house burnings against people suspected by Chechen authorities of having links to rebels. She was honored by Human Rights Watch as a recipient of our
Human Rights Defender Award in 2007, and received many other international prizes in recognition of her important human rights work, including the European Parliament's
Robert Schuman medal in 2005, and the "Right to Life" award from the Swedish Parliament in 2004. She was the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya prize, in honor of
the slain Russian journalist.
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