Elena Milashina, the most awarded investigative journalist of the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, has decided to leave Russia after receiving threats from the Chechen leader, Ramzán Kadírov. “My director and my sources among senior officials insist on this. They say that now the degree of threat to my life is high. That is why I listen to them, even if I don’t feel like it,” he told the Dozhd television channel.
The assassination that ended press freedom in Russia
Milashina, compared for her denunciations of abuses in Chechnya with the assassinated Anna Politkóvskaya, recalled that it is not the first time that she has received threats from Chechnya, which has been denounced by Russian activists and Amnesty International. The reporter indicates that she will continue working from abroad, without specifying the country in which she will temporarily exile.
Kadyrov recently branded Milashina a “terrorist” and called on the security forces to immediately arrest her. Furthermore, in a message on social media he said that the Chechen authorities “always liquidate terrorists and their accomplices.”
Those threats led several Russian media and journalists to address Russian President Vladimir Putin, who received Kadyrov at the Kremlin on Thursday. Novaya Gazeta he has approached the Instruction Committee to open a criminal case against the Chechen leader for inciting hatred and threatening the use of violence.
“In view of the numerous personal threats made to journalist Elena Milashina by prominent representatives of Chechnya in recent days, the editorial board has decided to send Elena Milashina abroad. Elena follows the security protocols approved by the editorial office. Her location will not affect your coverage of human rights in Chechnya at all,” says the newspaper in a statement.
Milashina’s reporting on the persecution, rape and murder of homosexuals in the republic and far from it by the Chechen security services has received wide coverage in the press and on television around the world.
torture and kidnapping
In addition, the Chechen deputy and close ally of Kadyrov, Adam Delimjánov, called to “cut off the heads” of the relatives of the former judge of the Supreme Court of the republic, Saidi Yangulbayev, statements condemned in the Duma. “You should know that we will persecute you day and night without caring about our lives and belongings until we cut off your heads, until we kill you all,” he said, also referring to the detainee’s son, the activist Abubakar Yangulbayev.
The lawyer’s wife was detained in the city of Nizhny Novgorod by the Chechen security forces and transferred to Grozny for interrogation, an operation that many activists described as “kidnapping”.
Kadirov is accused of turning Chechnya into a kind of caliphate where the same laws do not apply as in the rest of the country and where he has established a police state where torture and kidnapping are common currency. He is accused by human rights organizations of being behind the murders of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov (2015), activist Natalia Estemírova (2009) and Politkóvskaya (2006).
Director of Novaya GazetaDmitri Muratov, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in December, denounced the persecution of press freedom in Putin’s Russia.