Another political assasination in Russia

When internationally known Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed outside her apartment in Moscow in October 2007, prize-winning reporter Natalya Estemirova was there to pick up her fallen flag and carry on.  Now, the world must wonder whether it was Estemirova's plan to follow in Politkovskaya's footsteps, even if they led her into the grave.

On Wednesday, Estemirova was abducted in Grozny, Chechnya, and soon after found shot in the head, her body dumped at the roadside in nearby Ingushetia.  Her last report was on yet another instance of Russian security forces burning the home of a separatist rebel, his wife and children locked in the basement, a practice for which Human Rights Watch recently condemned the Russian government.

Like Politkovskaya, Estemirova had been repeatedly threatened by the Kremlin's puppet strongman in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and nobody in the Kremlin ever lifted a finger to silence Kadyrov's ravings. Now, it seems he has carried through on his threats.  Estemirova eulogized Politkovskaya on the one year anniversary of the latter's killing, but it's not clear now whether there is anyone to step up and take Estemirova's place, something Kadyrov may be counting on.  His toughest critic now is Yulia Latyina, who writes a regular column for the Moscow Times newspaper, but she rarely visits Chechnya as Estemirova and Politkovskaya did and doesn't issue a continuous drumbeat of reports regarding human rights atrocities (Russia has been convicted several times for state-sponsored murder in Chechnya by the European Court for Human Rights).

This murder is only the latest in a long string of political killings aimed at Kremlin critics, one that dates back to Vladimir Putin's earliest days in office.  Will this finally be the one that motivates Western leaders, particularly Barack Obama, to take serious policy action in defense of democracy in Russia?

Estemirova, a single mother like Politkovskaya, leaves behind a teenage daughter.
When internationally known Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed outside her apartment in Moscow in October 2007, prize-winning reporter Natalya Estemirova was there to pick up her fallen flag and carry on.  Now, the world must wonder whether it was Estemirova's plan to follow in Politkovskaya's footsteps, even if they led her into the grave.

On Wednesday, Estemirova was abducted in Grozny, Chechnya, and soon after found shot in the head, her body dumped at the roadside in nearby Ingushetia.  Her last report was on yet another instance of Russian security forces burning the home of a separatist rebel, his wife and children locked in the basement, a practice for which Human Rights Watch recently condemned the Russian government.

Like Politkovskaya, Estemirova had been repeatedly threatened by the Kremlin's puppet strongman in Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, and nobody in the Kremlin ever lifted a finger to silence Kadyrov's ravings. Now, it seems he has carried through on his threats.  Estemirova eulogized Politkovskaya on the one year anniversary of the latter's killing, but it's not clear now whether there is anyone to step up and take Estemirova's place, something Kadyrov may be counting on.  His toughest critic now is Yulia Latyina, who writes a regular column for the Moscow Times newspaper, but she rarely visits Chechnya as Estemirova and Politkovskaya did and doesn't issue a continuous drumbeat of reports regarding human rights atrocities (Russia has been convicted several times for state-sponsored murder in Chechnya by the European Court for Human Rights).

This murder is only the latest in a long string of political killings aimed at Kremlin critics, one that dates back to Vladimir Putin's earliest days in office.  Will this finally be the one that motivates Western leaders, particularly Barack Obama, to take serious policy action in defense of democracy in Russia?

Estemirova, a single mother like Politkovskaya, leaves behind a teenage daughter.