Russian Omertà

Celestine Bohlen has an op/ed in the New York Times on the latest murders in Chechnya:

Now, the bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Alik Djabrailov, who worked with an organization that helped young people in Chechnya, have been discovered in the trunk of their car in Grozny, after the human rights group Memorial reported they had been kidnapped.

Why aren’t Western governments doing more to hold Moscow accountable? Instead of letting the Kremlin off the hook, they could shame Russia into stopping the murders and jailing the killers. President Medvedev’s outraged comments — rare for a Kremlin leader — may prove to be the crack in the omertà in the Putin-Kadyrov regime. He could be held to his promise of an uncompromising investigation into Ms. Estemirova’s death.

In the past, the West has chosen to mute its criticism of Russia’sChechen wars. In 2001, after the Sept. 11 attacks, the United Statesgovernment accepted Russia’s help in Afghanistan, in return foroverlooking brutal tactics in what Moscow described as its own war onterror in Chechnya.

There should be no excuses this time. Ms. Estemirova, like Ms.Politkovskaya, and the other felled human rights campaigners, were athreat only to those who killed her.

Telling the truth should never be that dangerous.