Russian rights body: Kadyrov's trial attack on freedom of speech
Chechen president Kadyrov sued head of Russian rights body who claimed he ordered the murder of one of its activists.
Chechen president Ramdan Kadyrov sued on Monday head of Russian rights body who claimed he ordered the murder of one of its activists.
Natalia Estemirova, who worked for rights group Memorial, was abducted near her house in Chechnya region on July 15, shot dead and her body dumped in neighbouring Ingushetia.
The incident drew worldwide condemnation.
Memorial's chairman Oleg Orlov said in a statement after her body was found that he was sure Kadyrov was guilty of the murder, saying she had become his "personal enemy".
Kadyrov's lawyer, Andrei Krasnenkov, said he would demand at a preliminary hearing at a Moscow court on Monday that Memorial withdraw the allegations and that Orlov pay 10 million roubles in damages, RIA news agency reported.
Orlov's lawyer Genri Reznik said his client had merely offered his considered opinion and that taking him to court was an attack on freedom of speech.
"If people who express and back up their opinions are gagged we will change into speechless reptiles," Reznik told Reuters Television. "Freedom of expression is a principle enshrined in the Constitution."
Asked if he still thought Kadyrov ordered Estemirova's murder, Orlov said: "I think that this is the version of events that needs to be carefully examined. It is obvious that he bears political responsibility."
Rights groups said the killing illustrated the climate of fear with which Kadyrov, an ex-pro independent fighter switched ob Kremlin, rules the region.
Kadyrov has repeatedly denied accusations he is behind a spate of killings of critics of his leadership, though he says he has to use tough measuress against fighters.
Human rights groups alongside Estemirova have repeatedly accused the authorities of serious abuses including house burning, extra-judicial killings, torture and illegal punishment.
In 2008, high-level Chechen officials, including Kadyrov, made public statements stating that the families of insurgents should expect to be punished unless they convinced their relatives to surrender.
Last Mod: 01 Eylül 2009, 11:50