Press release

Russia: Authorities Must Condemn, Investigate Attack on Human Rights Defenders in Chechnya

Russian authorities should condemn the recent attack on human rights defenders in Chechnya.

Washington

In response to the beating of two human rights defenders in Chechnya by a group of assailants, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“The Russian government must condemn this heinous act of violence,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Freedom House’s Europe and Eurasia programs. “In a situation where perpetrators are committing increasingly violent acts with impunity, words are not enough, however. The Russian government must act. We call upon the authorities to conduct a swift and impartial investigation into the attack on journalist Elena Milashina and attorney Marina Dubrovina. The violence must stop, and those responsible must be held accountable for their actions.”

Background:

On February 6, 2020, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta, Elena Milashina, and prominent lawyer Marina Dubrovina were beaten by a group of assailants in the lobby and entrance of a Grozny hotel. Reportedly, multiple women attackers, coordinated by several men, attacked Milashina and Dubrovina, slapping and kicking them and hitting their heads against the marble floor. As a result of the assault, Milashina and Dubrovina suffered bruising and sought medical assistance.

The two human rights defenders are in Chechnya to cover the legal proceedings in the case of Ismail Nukhanov, who was kidnapped on November 1, 2020, and beaten by the authorities for allegedly filming and posting a video of residences of allies of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic. Elena Milashina was a recipient of Freedom House’s Freedom Award in 2018, for helping to expose the widespread illegal detention, torture, and murder of gay men in Chechnya.

Russia is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2019, Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2019, and Not Free in Nations in Transit 2018.