Colleagues of Ms. Estemirova say her murder Wednesday is part of a pattern that shows cost of a Kremlin pact with Chechnyan President Ramzan Kadyrov.
The murder of human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, kidnapped in Chechnya and shot execution-style in neighboring Ingushetia on Wednesday, has shocked the Kremlin and led President Dmitry Medvedev to pledge a full investigation.
But leaders of Memorial, the Russian human rights organization that Ms. Estemirova worked with, and other human rights experts here say her death can be added to a fast-growing price tag for a Faustian pact. They say that pro-Moscow strongman Ramzan Kadyrov "pacified" rebellious Chechnya, and in exchange, the Kremlin agreed to turn a blind eye to his methods.
"We know that Kadyrov controls Chechnya, and we know what [pro-Moscow] Chechen officials have said about Memorial, and Natalya, and her work. We have no illusions," says Alexander Cherkasov, a member of Memorial's board and longtime colleague of Estemirova's.
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