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Russia identifies killer of rights activist: Medvedev

Russia has identified the killer of rights activist Natalya Estemirova and he now is the target of an international search, President Dmitry Medvedev said today.

world Updated: Jul 15, 2010 15:35 IST

Russia has identified the killer of rights activist Natalya Estemirova and he now is the target of an international search, President Dmitry Medvedev said on Thursday.

"The perpetrator of this murder - the killer - has been uncovered and definitively identified. He is on an international wanted list," said Medvedev at a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

"Now an investigation is under way to not only establish the killer, who is the target of a search, but also the one who ordered this terrible crime."

Merkel called on Russia to "find the truth" and solve Estemirova's killing, one year to the day after the rights campaigner for prize-winning Russian rights group Memorial was murdered in the Caucasus.

Memorial activists have accused the authorities of seeking to obscure the search for Estemirova's killers and ignoring any leads that could point to the involvement of security structures in the Caucasus region of Chechnya.

But Medvedev hit back the criticism, saying: "It is wrong to say there is no investigation. The probe is going full force."

"There are no quick results in this, unless the person is caught red handed," he said, speaking at a press conference alongside Merkel in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg.

Estemirova, 50, was abducted in outside her home in the Chechen capital of Grozny before her corpse was found hours later riddled with bullet holes in neighbouring Ingushetia on July 15, 2009.

Memorial's chief Oleg Orlov was charged with libel earlier this month in a criminal investigation into his allegations last year that the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, was responsible for Estemirova's murder.

The controversial Kadyrov angrily dismissed the allegations and in turn has described Memorial as "enemies of the people".