Apti Zainalov & Natalia Estemirova
In June 2009, human rights organisation Memorial Grozny received information that Apti Zainalov, a victim of abduction who had been reported to them earlier that year, had been spotted in Atchko-Martan hospital with multiple bullet wounds. Apti was unconscious and being kept under strict police surveillance. Memorial launched an immediate inquiry, but the organization lost access to Apti after the authorities noticed activity around the hospital. Memorial employees managed to trace a car that moved Apti to a secure facility in Gudermes but they were unable to gain further access.
The case was one of the last abductions investigated by Natalia Estemirova, a human rights advocate who was herself abducted and murdered on 15th of July, 2009. While continuing to investigate Zainalov’s case, another employee of Memorial, Akhmed Gisaev, received death threats and emigrated shortly thereafter, fearing for the safety of his family. The whereabouts of Apti remain unknown.