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BRUSSELS (AFP) - Sweden, the EU presidency, has condemned the murders of a human rights defender and her husband in Chechnya, calling for an investigation and urging Moscow to ensure the safety of such activists.
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• Sweden condemns murder of Russian activist
"The EU condemns the murders of the human rights defender Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov in Chechnya on 10 August and expresses its solidarity with the families of the victims," the Swedish EU presidency said in a statement.
"It is important that an investigation into these latest murders is conducted promptly, transparently and thoroughly," it said, stressing that the killers be brought to justice.
The bullet-ridden bodies of Sadulayeva, who was head of the Let's Save the Generation NGO, and her husband were found in the boot of a car on Tuesday.
The deaths came less than a month after Natalya Estemirova, one of the best known activists in Chechnya, was killed in similar circumstances.
The European Union "will follow closely the progress of this and other ongoing investigations into the murders of human rights defenders," the EU presidency said in the statement, recalling also the killings of other human rights defenders in Russia, including investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, Stanislav Markelov in January and Estemirova on July 15.
"The EU urges the Russian authorities to do everything in their power to ensure the protection of human rights defenders," stated the EU presidency, held by Sweden for the first half of this year.
Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region in the North Caucasus mountains, was the site of two full-scale wars between separatist forces and Russia's central government after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
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Last Updated (Thursday, 13 August 2009 08:12)