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2 Senators Blast Memorial's Work in Chechnya

Two senators harshly criticized Memorial's human rights work in Chechnya on Thursday, days after Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov described its members as enemies of the people, the law and the state.

Memorial head Oleg Orlov said he did not rule out the possibility that Memorial might suspend its work in Chechnya for a second time. The group first suspended its work in the republic last year after the still-unsolved killing of its activist Natalya Estemirova on July 15.

Ziyab Sabsabi, who represents Chechnya in the Federation Council, said Memorial's work was of "no use" in Chechnya because the human rights situation had stabilized, Interfax reported.

Another Chechen senator, Aslambek Aslakhanov, said Memorial activists were "telling a truth that sometimes damaged themselves when it would be better to keep silent and strike a compromise," Interfax reported.

Sabsabi defended Kadyrov, saying he must have had "serious reasons" to describe Memorial activists as enemies in a local television interview on July 3.

In a statement Thursday, Memorial called Kadyrov's remarks "a direct and clear-cut threat." At Kadyrov's request, Orlov was charged this week with defamation for blaming Kadyrov for kidnappings and killings in Chechnya.

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