TAKE ACTION FOR BANNED BOOKS WEEK 2021
Stand with the Russian Journalist Elena Milashina
Elena Milashina is an award winning investigative journalist for the Novaya Gazeta and a human rights defender whose work has focused on Chechnya. As a journalist writing about Chechnya, Elena is at risk of retaliation for her work. She was the target of a thinly veiled death threat from the Head of the Chechen Republic in 2020 and was physically attacked by a mob in Grozny, the Chechen capital. Additionally, she has been the target of smear campaigns for her reporting.
On April 13, 2020, the Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov posted a thinly veiled death threat aimed at Elena Milashina on Instagram. The threat was in reaction to her article, published in Novaya Gazeta on April 12, 2020 regarding the authorities’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Chechnya. Ramzan Kadyrov accused Novaya Gazeta and its journalists of being “puppets of the West” and directly appealed to the Presidential administration and the Federal Security Service (FSB) “to stop those non-humans who are writing and provoking our people.” He further alluded that unless they do it, someone in Chechnya would have to commit a crime to silence the journalist.
In the 2020 Grozny attack, Elena Milashina, who in 2017 broke the story of the campaign of abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya, and human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina were attacked by a mob. Elena Milashina was in Grozny as a journalist planning to attend the trial of Islam Nukhanov, a blogger who was detained after he published a video on YouTube of expensive properties allegedly belonging to families associated with Chenchnya’s leadership.
On March 15, 2021, Novaya Gazeta published another of Ms. Milashina’s articles that shed light on unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial executions of civilians carried out by Chechnya’s Second Special Patrol Regiment personnel. In response to the article, top Chechen officials started a defamation and intimidation campaign against Ms Milashina and Novaya Gazeta.
Amnesty International is urging the Russian government to fully, effectively and impartially investigate the threats and physical violence against Elena to ensure she can safely continue her work as a journalist.
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