06 October 2009, 20:00

Respondent's witnesses in Kadyrov vs. Orlov litigation confirm threats of Chechen authorities to Estemirova

The Tver Court of Moscow, which is considering the claim lodged by President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov on defence of his honour and dignity against Oleg Orlov, head of the Human Rights Centre (HRC) "Memorial", respondent's witnesses gave their evidences.

They were Alexander Cherkasov, a member of the board of the Society "Memorial", and Gregory Shvedov, another member of the board and editor-in-chief of the Internet medium "Caucasian Knot".

Mr Cherkasov told about the meeting of human rights defender Natalia Estemirova with Kadyrov in March 2008, where President of Chechnya addressed Natalia in offensive manner. The reason of the meeting was Estemirova's appearance in the report of the REN-TV Company, where she spoke against forcing women in Chechnya to wear headgear.

"Then, Kadyrov switched over to discussion of her work and noted: 'You get engaged in such cases - aren't you afraid for your daughter?' Estemirova perceived it as a threat to her safety and went abroad for a couple of months," said Mr Cherkasov.

Gregory Shvedov, in his turn, said that in Chechnya sources of information agree to present data to the "Caucasian Knot" only on the conditions of anonymity. "This is not the case in other regions. Even in restless ones, like Dagestan, sources give their names," said the witness.

He has added that Natalia Estemirova was the only source who agreed to authorize her statements. "She was not afraid to disclose her name and information she had," Mr Shvedov has explained.

Also today, claimant's witnesses evidenced to the court, although earlier it was reported that the claimant would not present any witnesses.

Kadyrov's advocate said that the witnesses summoned today, were acquainted with Natalia Estemirova.

Tamara Kagirova, head of the regional organization "Search of Missing Persons", told the court that nobody threatened Estemirova. With the same confidence she asserted that Kadyrov had no personal meetings with Natalia. "If I haven't heard about such meetings, it means they never took place," said the witness.

According to Olkhazan Tsubaraev, head of the analytical division of the Ombudsman's office in Chechnya, Estemirova life had not assumed any threat. While assessing the work of the HRC "Memorial", he noted that all the undertakings of local authorities were negatively tackled by this organization.

Umar Dzhumaliev, head of the office of Chechen Ombudsman, said that Estemirova's primary goal "was to quickly give unchecked information out to Moscow." However, in answer to Oleg Orlov's question, whether the office had ever addressed the HRC "Memorial" as to placement of unreliable in the website of the organization, the witness said that there were no such appeals.

Aminat Malsagova, chair of the "North-Caucasian Peacemaking Centre", said that Kadyrov had no negative altitude to human rights activists, in particular, to Estemirova. She has added that Estemirova was not afraid for her life.

Advocate Krasnenkov asked the claimant's witnesses: "Why don't you say here what you had told me?"

He has explained that in conversation with him witness Aminat Malsagova said that Estemirova was ridden with the result; she was in permanent hunt for figures of kidnapped and killed persons, for the data she was demanded for. "You've told other things to me!" Kadyrov's advocate addressed Malsagova. She was surprised and asked: "Did I?"

Author: Alexander Baklanov; Source: CK correspondent

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