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4 Feb, 2022 10:52

Russian journalist leaves country after personal threats

Novaya Gazeta journalist sent abroad by newspaper after significant threats to her safety
Russian journalist leaves country after personal threats

Threats from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov have pushed Russian journalist Elena Milashina to temporarily flee the country to protect her safety, her newspaper announced on Thursday.

According to Dmitry Muratov, the editor-in-chief of the Moscow-based publication Novaya Gazeta, Milashina has been sent “on assignment” outside Russia “in view of numerous personal threats.” The decision to make a quick exit, she explained herself, was personally insisted upon by Muratov, who believes her safety to be in grave danger.

Muratov, who first joined the newspaper in 1993, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year for his “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.”

Milashina covers the topic of human rights in Chechnya, and has reported on alleged gay purges and other abuses taking place in the republic. In 2000, she founded the Committee for the Prevention of Torture with fellow campaigner Igor Kalyapin. Last month, both were characterized as ‘terrorists’ by Chechen leader Kadyrov on social media for their work on human rights in the area.

Chechnya, a majority-Muslim republic, is located around 1,500 kilometers south of Moscow and has been ruled by Kadyrov since 2007.

“We’ve always destroyed terrorists and their accomplices. There’s no difference between them, and that’s what we’ll keep doing,” Kadyrov said in January.

Milashina, along with lawyer Abubakar Yangulbaev, recently accused Kadyrov and Chechen security forces of the mistreatment of Zarema Musaeva, the wife of Yangulbaev’s father Saydi Yangulbaev, a former judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic. In January, Musaeva was allegedly forcefully detained in Nizhny Novgorod by representatives of the Chechen security forces. She was then taken to Chechnya for interrogation, where a criminal case was opened against her for an alleged attack on a police officer during her arrest. Saydi Yangulbaev and his children left Russia after promises by Chechnya’s leader that a place “in prison or underground” is all that awaits their family.

According to Novaya Gazeta, Milashina will continue to follow “editorially approved safety protocols,” and her new location “will not affect the coverage of the topic of human rights in Chechnya.”

On January 31, Novaya Gazeta demanded that Russia’s Investigative Committee, headed by Alexander Bastrykin, open a criminal inquiry. The newspaper claims that comments directed at Milashina by Kadyrov constitute the incitement of hatred.

On Tuesday, the newspaper, alongside Russian TV Channel Dozhd, were dubbed “accomplices of terrorists” by Kadyrov.