My noble friend Lady Kinnock of Holyhead, the Minister for Europe, made the following statement on 16 July 2009, the day after the murder of Natalia Estemirova.
“I am saddened and troubled to learn of the kidnapping and murder of Russian human rights defender, Natalia Estemirova. I share the indignation expressed by the European Union, President Medvedev and human rights advocates at this shocking crime. I extend my deepest sympathies to her family and colleagues.
Natalia Estemirova's work in the field of human rights was internationally renowned. We welcome the announcement that a criminal investigation will be led by the Russian Prosecutor-General. We stress the need for a full and thorough investigation, and hope that it will bring to justice those responsible for her murder”.
Our ambassador in Moscow conveyed personal condolences to the head of the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Memorial, Natalia Estemirova's employer. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office will make representations to the Government of the Russian Federation about Natalia Estemirova's murder. We will press the Russian Government for a full, transparent investigation, which should be conducted at the highest level. We will also continue to press the Russian Government to ensure a safe working environment for NGOs in the region.
We continue to raise concerns about the safety of human rights defenders and journalists in Russia at every opportunity, including at the bilateral human rights consultations which were held in Moscow on 16 January 2009, and at the EU-Russia human rights consultations on 26 May 2009.
The EU presidency issued a statement on the murder of Natalia Estemirova on 16 July 2009, which also urged the Russian authorities to investigate the murders of human rights defenders promptly and impartially, and to bring all perpetrators to justice. We will press for the presidency to raise Natalia Estemirova's case during the next EU-Russia human rights dialogue.