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Memorial Head Says Kadyrov Interview Is Grounds For Lawsuit

MOSCOW. Sept 24 (Interfax) - The statements on the work of Memorial in Chechnya made by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in an interview with the newspaper Zavtra may give rise to a lawsuit, Oleg Orlov, the head of the Memorial human rights organization, said.

"We will think about doing that (filing a lawsuit), but theoretically they (the statements) can (result in a lawsuit)," Orlov said in an interview with Interfax on Thursday, commenting on Kadyrov's allegations that Memorial official Natalya Estemirova, who was killed on July 15, fabricated materials to destabilize the situation in the region.

Kadyrov said in his interview with Zavtra that Estemirova was offered to head up the commission in charge of probing complaints and claims relating to the observance of civil rights, but the human rights activist did not fulfill her functions. "She was told: 'You are not doing a good job.' She was angered and started writing various articles containing false information. She did not sign them with her real name. She met with other opponents of stability in Chechnya and said: 'What are we going to do? Chechnya is leaving us. We are losing Chechnya,'" Kadyrov said.

"We are responsible for all information we report and we are ready to prove that we are right," Orlov said. "Everything that Ramzan Kadyrov says is on his conscience. I doubt that a person who makes such insults about late human rights activist Natalya Estemirova has this quality," he said.

"What Ramzan Kadyrov said is not true. Kadyrov's words show once again how difficult it for independent human rights organizations to work on the territory of the Chechen Republic," Orlov said.

Kadyrov's lawyer Andrei Krasnenkov told Interfax in response to Orlov's statement: "Theoretically, a lot of things are possible."

"If Kadyrov said something, it means he had facts and reasons to say that, I don't doubt that. I have talked with Memorial and Moscow Helsinki Group officials, and I asked myself: maybe these people want a third Chechen war" Apparently, Western grants are given to them for that very purpose, they clearly want a 'fire' in the republic," Krasnenkov said.

The trial of Kadyrov's defamation lawsuit against Orlov will begin in the Moscow Tverskoi District Court on Friday. The lawsuit was filed over Orlov's statement accusing Kadyrov of involvement in the Estemirova killing.

Natalya Estemirova was abducted by unknown individuals in Grozny on July 15. Her dead body with bullet wounds was later found in neighboring Ingushetia.

In his lawsuit, Kadyrov asked the court to order Orlov to publish a refutation and pay him 10 million rubles in moral damages.

Besides the lawsuit, Kadyrov has filed a claim with the Moscow Main Interior Affairs Department (GUVD), asking for a slander case to be opened against Orlov. The police initially refused to prosecute the human rights activist, but Kadyrov contested that decision with the Moscow prosecutor's office, which reversed the decision not to open a criminal case against Orlov.

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