x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Kidnapped Chechen activist found dead

The head of the Chechen aid group Memorial and her husband are found dead in the boot of their car.

MOSCOW // The kidnapped head of a Chechen aid group and her husband were found dead in the boot of their car a day after being taken hostage, police and an official of the Russian human rights group Memorial said today. Memorial's Alexander Cherkasov said that the bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband were found in a suburb of the Chechen capital Grozny. A Chechen interior ministry spokesman said the bodies were found in the car's trunk with gunshot wounds in the head and chest.

The abductions followed last month's kidnapping and killing of another prominent rights activist, Nataliya Estemirova. Mr Cherkasov said Ms Sadulayeva's group was helping children in Chechnya, a region that has been devastated by two separatist wars over the last 15 years. Activists blame the forces of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov for abductions, killings and torture. Fighting between Russian forces and separatist rebels in Chechnya has dwindled to occasional small clashes in recent years. But Mr Kadyrov's opponents say he has imposed a regime of fear and impunity. Memorial's top activist, Oleg Orlov, has accused Mr Kadyrov of involvement in the slaying of Ms Estemirova. The leader has angrily denied the allegations, but he denounced Ms Estemirova as a person who "never had any honour, dignity or conscience".

*AP