Press release

Russia: Authorities Must Condemn Threats Against Journalists

Recent threats made by the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov against Novaya Gazeta's journalists working in the republic are appalling and dangerous, and must cease.

In response to threats made against Novaya Gazeta and its brave investigative journalists working in Chechnya, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Recent threats made by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov against Novaya Gazeta’s journalists are appalling and dangerous, and must cease,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Freedom House’s Europe and Eurasia programs. “These public threats are clearly directed at Elena Milashina, who suffered a brutal physical attack earlier this year for her coverage in Chechnya. The Kremlin’s dismissal of Kadyrov’s threats as ‘an emotional outburst’ is unacceptable. The Russian authorities must hold public officials accountable for their words and actions, and protect citizens from an entrenched culture of impunity. In light of repeated demonstrations of the Russian government’s inability or unwillingness to protect citizens, the international community must hold Russian authorities accountable to their obligation to protect journalists from harassment and the threat of violence.”

Background:

On April 12, Elena Milashina, an investigative reporter, published an article about the impact of COVID-19 in Chechnya for Novaya Gazeta. The next day, Kadyrov condemned the publication and threatened its staff, saying, “if you want us to commit a crime, just tell us.” The tirade was published on Kadyrov’s personal Telegram account. The Kremlin’s official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed the affair as nothing more than an emotional outburst, adding, “we didn’t see anything unusual here. Naturally, everybody’s a little on edge right now.” Milashina’s article is no longer available on Novaya Gazeta’s website.

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