Investigative Journalist Elena Milashina Fled Russia After Receiving Threats From the Chechen Leader
Russian authorities should ensure the safety of journalist Elena Milashina and promptly investigate threats made by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov against her and independent media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said.
The editors of the independent newspaper “Novaya Gazeta” decided to send Elena Milashina, an investigative journalist who reports on human rights violations in Chechnya, out of the country. This happened after the threats that the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov addressed to her and because of the intensified political rhetoric in Chechnya, which condemned the independent media “Novaya Gazeta” and “TV Dozhd”. This for the Committee for Protection of Journalists, which reacted on the occasion of these attacks, was confirmed by the journalist Milashina on February 3 this year.
IFEX, a global network of 100 non-governmental organizations advocating for free expression and access to information, also reacted to the same case on the social network Twitter.
The Chechen authorities’ statements came after Milasina and Igor Kaljapin, the founder of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, reported on the case of a former federal judge and his family, who, according to media reports, had been threatened by Chechen authorities. “TV Dozhd” also reported on the case.
We urge the Russian authorities to take seriously the threats made by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to journalist Elena Milashina and to hold him and other Chechen officials accountable, said Gulnoza Saeed, program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists for Europe and Central Asia in New York.
Milashina, “Novaya Gazeta” and “TV Dozhd” do the key work of shedding light on events in Chechnya and should not be hindered in their work, let alone threatened. Russian authorities must ensure Milasina’s safe return.
In a statement made by “Telegram” from 23 January, Kadyrov called Milasina a “terrorist”, demanded her arrest and accused her of “making money from topics about the Chechen Republic and the Chechens.” He added that the Chechen authorities “are always destroying terrorists and their accomplices and will continue to do so in the future.”
On 31 January Novaya Gazeta reported that it had filed a complaint with the Russian Investigative Committee, requesting a criminal investigation against the Chechen leader under Article 282 of the Criminal Code for “inciting hatred”.
On February 1, Kadyrov posted a video on the Russian social network Vkontakte in which he called the journalists of “Novaya Gazeta” and “TV Dozhd” “terrorists” and called for criminal proceedings against them.
According to media reports, on February 2, Ismail Denilhanov, president of the Public Chamber of Chechnya, addressed a rally in the capital, Grozny, saying the two media outlets must be shut down and calling them “hostile.”
Later that day, the liberal radio station Echo of Moscow, in a show of solidarity with “Novaya Gazeta” and “TV Dozhd”, appealed via telegram to Russian President Vladimir Putin to “get involved” in the event.
In an interview with “TV Dozd” on 4 February, Milasina said that the Novaya Gazeta editorial office considered the threat to her personal safety to be high.
On 8 February “TV Dozhd” announced that it had also lodged a complaint with the Investigative Committee regarding Kadyrov’s threats.
This is not the first time Kadyrov has threatened Milashina, a former correspondent for the Committee to Protect Journalists from Russia. She had to flee Moscow after threats from Chechen officials in 2020 and 2017. She was also attacked during her 2020 business trip to the capital, Grozny, and beaten in Moscow in 2012, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.