Person of the Week: Elena Milashina facing death threats, intimidation and physical attacks for her reporting on Chechnya

Week-ending 26 March 2021

Source: Wikipedia

Elena Milashina, a journalist who works for Novaya gazeta, is facing death threats, intimidation, and physical attacks and there are serious concerns over her safety after she published an article exposing judicial killings in Chechnya. Seven Russian and international NGOs have written a joint letter to the PACE and the OSCE drawing attention to the threats made against Milashina and urging the issuance of ‘a strong statement in support of Novaya Gazeta and Ms Milashina condemning the threats and smear campaign against them and calling on the Russian authorities to effectively and impartially investigate the new and the past threats and attack against Ms Milashina and ensure her and her colleagues’ safety’ and calling on the Russian authorities ‘to open a criminal investigation into the reports of extrajudicial executions and torture exposed by Novaya Gazeta [and] and to protect media freedoms in Russia.’


Amnesty International, 22 March 2021: Elena Milashina is a prominent Russian investigative journalist and human rights defender who has been targeted on numerous occasions because of her work exposing human rights violations in Chechnya. Elena is facing death threats, intimidation, and physical attacks and there are serious concerns over her safety. We must stand in solidarity with Elena and demand that the Russian authorities protect her and investigate threats made against Elena and newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch, 26 March 2021: To: Frank Schwabe, Legal Affairs and Human Rights Rapporteur on human rights in the North Caucasus, PACE; Teresa Ribeiro, Representative on Freedom of the Media, OSCE. On behalf of Russian and international NGOs addressing human rights violations in the North Caucasus, Committee against Torture Human Rights Centre “Memorial” The “Sphere” Foundation/Russian LGBT Network Amnesty International Civil Rights Defenders Human Rights Watch Norwegian Helsinki Committee We would like to draw your attention to very serious threats by Chechen authorities to Novaya Gazeta and one of their leading investigative journalists, Elena Milashina, in connection with their reporting on human rights abuses in Chechnya.

The Moscow Times, 25 March 2021: On the way to work at Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta last Monday morning, journalists noticed a strong chemical stench on the street outside their central Moscow office. By the time they sat down at their desks they had spread a clear, noxious substance throughout the building on the soles of their shoes.  Only months after opposition leader Alexei Navalny was near-fatally poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent, the apparent chemical attack struck fear into many of the paper’s staff. Days later, an elite Chechen regiment released a video interpreted as claiming the attack and demanding Russian President Vladimir Putin punish Novaya Gazeta for reporting on extrajudicial killings in the autonomous region. “We will continue with our investigations,” the paper’s long-serving editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov told The Moscow Times. “That is our answer to these threats.”

Caucasian Knot, 21 March 2021: Ramzan Kadyrov is the only regional head who dares objecting to Dmitry Peskov, the presidential press secretary; however, the head of Chechnya overestimates his influence; next time the Kremlin will severely siege him, the experts interviewed by the “Caucasian Knot” have noted. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on March 15, the “Novaya Gazeta” newspaper published a story by Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, a former fighter of the Akhmat Kadyrov Special Police Regiment, about torture and extrajudicial executions in Chechnya. After that, the fighters of the regiment in a video appeal to Vladimir Putin asked to stop the “information war” against the regiment. Dmitry Peskov responded that the appeal was not to the right address; and offered regiment fighter, if necessary, to file a lawsuit. Ramzan Kadyrov objected to him stating that “citizens have every right to appeal to the president.” […] After such Peskov’s statement, any other regional head “would shut up and sit silently in a corner,” said Oleg Orlov, the head of the “Hot Spots” Programme at the Human Rights Centre (HRC) “Memorial”*. “This is an insult to Peskov; and it puts Putin in an extremely uncomfortable position,” Mr Orlov has added. In his opinion, by objecting Peskov, Kadyrov went for broke to continue to look “cool” in the eyes of his retinue.

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