Russian Justice Needs More than Words

Here is an extract from a piece in the Financial Times:

A comprehensive peace in the northern Caucasus would require long-term policies to win over the non-Russian peoples through political and social inclusion and economic development, and stabilise the whole region.

This would take years. But one move Mr Medvedev could make now would be to show he really does intend to apply the rule of law in the northern Caucasus by bringing to justice Ms Estemirova’s killers. That would mean pursuing not only those who pulled the trigger but those who ordered the execution. Memorial, the human rights group with which Ms Estemirova was working, has blamed Mr Kadyrov. He denies the charge. Mr Medvedev could show he is serious by appointing a prosecutor to investigate fully Memorial’s claim.

Ms Estemirova’s colleagues fear there is not the slightest chance this will happen because Mr Medvedev has already dismissed claims of Mr Kadyrov’s responsibility. The president has an opportunity to prove them wrong – and prove when he says he wants justice, he means what he says. Chechnya would be a difficult place to begin, given that the chain of command in Chechnya leads to Moscow and that Mr Putin has personally played a big role in its recent bloody history. But the gravity of the Chechnya-linked cases means they cannot be ignored if there is to be justice in Russia.