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Farewell ceremony held for slain Chechen human rights activist

A farewell ceremony was held in the Chechen capital of Grozny on Thursday for murdered human rights activist Natalya Estemirova.

GROZNY, July 16 (RIA Novosti) - A farewell ceremony was held in the Chechen capital of Grozny on Thursday for murdered human rights activist Natalya Estemirova.

Estemirova, who had been investigating kidnappings and disappearances in Chechnya for the Russian human rights group Memorial, was kidnapped on Wednesday morning in Grozny. Her body was found with bullet wounds later in the day in neighboring Ingushetia. She was 50.

No speeches were delivered at the ceremony, which was attended by about 100 people. Estemirova's photo was posted at a monument to killed journalists and a banner reading "Who's Next?" was put up.

In line with Muslim tradition, Estemirova will be buried before sunset later on Thursday near her father's tomb in the village of Koshkeldy.

Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev pledged on Thursday that everything possible would be done to solve what he called "a very complicated murder."

Nurgaliyev's deputy said investigators were studying four possible motives for the killing.

"The first theory is that it is related to her professional - that is public - activity. The second theory is a provocation by warlords to discredit both local authorities and the police. The third deals with robbery," Arkady Yevdelev said, adding that the final possibility was that the murder was linked to her social life.

The investigation committee at the Russian Prosecutor General's Office believes Estemirova was killed for professional reasons. Russia's chief investigator, Alexander Bastrykin, has already arrived in Ingushetia.

According to Chechnya's investigation department, Estemirova had visited the investigation department the day before she was killed and had an appointment with the chief local investigator.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said on its website on Thursday that Estemirova had been invited to speak before the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights at its next meeting on September 11, 2009, at a hearing on the human rights situation in the Caucasus.

PACE President Lluis Maria de Puig and parliamentary rapporteurs expressed their "shock and dismay" over the murder.


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