Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Russia: Two years after the murder of Natalya Estemirova: Investigation on the wrong track

Publisher International Federation for Human Rights
Publication Date 25 July 2011
Cite as International Federation for Human Rights, Russia: Two years after the murder of Natalya Estemirova: Investigation on the wrong track, 25 July 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e39050bc.html [accessed 19 April 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

On July 14, 2011, in the Independent Press Center in Moscow a press conference "The First Results of Independent Investigation into the Murder of Natalya Estemirova" took place.

The joint report of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), HRC "Memorial" and "Novaya Gazeta" intitled "Two Years After the Murder of Natalya Estemirova: Investigation on the Wrong Track" was presented at the press conference.

It was also presented to the President Dmitri Medvedyev on July 5, 2011 during a field meeting of the Presidential Council on the Development of Civil Institutions and Human Rights.

A brief summary of the report:

Natalya Estemirova was abducted and killed on July 15, 2009. Since July 16, investigations have been conducted by Mr.Sobol, a senior investigator for Especially Important Cases for the Department of Investigation of Especially Important Cases of the Main Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee.

The investigation of case number 09500038 is developing four different versions of the murder (quote): "1. Connected to her professional activities; 2. Used to discredit power authorities in the Republic of Chechnya; 3. Related to personal hostilities against her; 4. Killed by siloviks from the Republic of Chechnya in connection with her publicity of human rights violations against its citizens."

From the outset, this investigation has possessed important evidence: based on a study of content samples found under the victim's nails and biological residue on her clothing, DNA residue from the abductors and murderers were identified – at least three people were involved, including an unidentified woman.

Nearly six months later, in January 2010, the investigation received "evidence" which served as the main factor in the current version of the murder: abduction and murder committed by the militant Alkhazur Bashaev "and other unidentified persons."

We analyzed the case materials available to use and conducted our own independent investigation. As a result, we can say that:

1. The investigation has not serious evidence of Alkhazur Bashaev's participation in the abduction and murder of Natalya Estemirova.

2. In fact, based on case materials, the "base of evidence" raises suspicions of a deliberate manipulation of evidence to make the "Bashaev version" the main version. Thus, a cache with a gun that killed Estemirova and phony police photo identification with Bashaev's picture was "found" – but from the text of expertise insist that Bashaev could not have fabricated this documentation; in addition, the investigation has not taken an interest in the powerful guided missiles found in the cache. They also found a car, VAZ-2107 – the same brand as the car which Estemirova was taken in – and its plates, which state that the car belonged to Bashaev, and a silencer to the gun. Only here there is no trace of the abduction, which couldn't help being left; according to another expert, Natalya was shot not using a silencer. The list of impossible to ignore "oddities" does not end there.

3. The investigation did not use all of its possibilities for DNA analysis of possible suspects. Because of this some sources were completely exhausted and further study of them is impossible. The "Bashaev Version" has not been proven by the investigation, but now cannot be fully refuted by comparing it to the DNA analysis of Bashaev's relatives.

4. The investigation has done nothing to conduct a comparative DNA analysis to prove the version participation by any other persons in the crime, including employees of state power structures.

We consider an effective investigation into the murder of Natalya Estemirova possible only with the active participation of the aggrieved party. This participation is sanctioned not only by the Russian Criminal Code, but also by the norms of international law.

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