The Estamirov family lived in the Oktyabrskiy district of Grozny. Their property consisted of two houses, built by the family over a period of 15 years, joined by a common courtyard.


During the hostilities in 1994 - 1996 one house was burnt and the second hit by a shell. When the fighting ended the family was able to restore one of their houses.


When fighting recommenced in November 1999, Ruslan Estamirov along with his mother Yakha  Estamirova and his four-year old nephew Khuseyn fled Grozny for Ingushetia. The rest of the family remained in Grozny to look after the house and property. According to Ruslan, they tried to convince their partially disabled father, Khasmagomed Estamirov (born in 1933), to move to Ingushetia, but he decided to remain in the house. One of his sons, Khozhakhmad Estamirov (born in 1963), stayed to look after him, along with Khozhakkhmad’s pregnant wife Toita Estamirova (born in 1971) and their son Khasan Estamirov (born in January 1999). Khasmagomed Estamirov also invited his cousin Said-Akhmed Masarov (born in 1950) to move in with them.


The killings


On 5 February 2000, several days after Russian forces had seized the Chechen capital Grozny, a “mopping-up” operation was conducted in Novye Aldy, a village on the outskirts of Grozny, which resulted in the summary execution of at least sixty civilans.  Survivors reported that the soldiers had entered the houses, killed the inhabitants and then burned the houses one by one.


In February 2000 Ruslan’s aunt went to Grozny. There she met an uncle of Ruslan’s who had suffered a nervous breakdown.  He told her that the remaining family members in Grozny had been killed by Russian soldiers. When he arrived at the house on the afternoon of 5 February 2000 he found the family dead; the bodies of Khasmagomed and Khozhakhmad were in the courtyard and the body of Said-Akhmed Masarov in the doorway of the house, partly burned. The bodies of Toita Estamirova, who was nine months pregnant, and her son lay in the corner of the courtyard. All of the bodies had gunshot wounds and the concrete was pockmarked with bullet holes. Toita, due to give birth in two weeks, was shot in the chest and stomach and her one-year-old boy Khasan had been shot several times in the head and leg. Toita’s ring and earrings were gone. Khasmagomed’s wallet was lying empty on the ground, and many items from the house were missing. Their car was burned, along with their cowshed and the two calves which had been trapped inside.


That day Ruslan’s uncle buried the bodies on a patch of land by the house, wrapped in pieces of cloth.