The Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union expresses extreme alarm and indignation at threats against Elena Milashina and Novaya Gazeta, stated on Instagram of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on April 13, after publishing a critical article about human rights violations during the pandemic fight in the republic.
Novaya Gazeta and its journalists in the statement are called “enemies of the nation” and “foreign agents, spreading fakes and harming the state.” Same days, Chechen authorities refused to investigate into Milashina’s battery in Grozny hotel.
Threats against Milashina and Novaya Gazeta are regularly made beginning from spring 2017 when Chechen authorities called to execute the journalists. This outrageous fact, which caused a stormy reaction of the professional community in the world, did not receive a proper response from the authorities of the republic and Russia.
On April 15 The Prosecutor General’s Office ordered state media watchdog Roskomnadzor to take Milashina’s article down as it criticizes Chechen leader and contains “false socially significant information… that threatens people’s lives and wellbeing.” The journalist face criminal charges under “spreading fakes about coronavirus” law.
The Journalists’ and Media Workers’ Union expresses solidarity with the newspaper and Elena Milashina and demands to stop the persecution of the journalist.
We agree with colleagues from the European Federation of Journalists that the concern for protecting citizens during a pandemic should not lead to a restriction on freedom of speech and the settling the scores with journalists.
We also demand a full-fledged independent investigation into the attack on Elena Milashina in Grozny and call for an unbiased assessment of the actions of the Chechen leadership in relation to Novaya Gazeta journalists.