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9 Feb, 2022 12:24

Russian journalists reveal Chechen fears

One reporter has already left the country, citing threats on her life
Russian journalists reveal Chechen fears

A prominent Russian journalists’ organization has published a petition calling on authorities to investigate threats from Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, after he referred to several reporters and publications as “terrorists” and suggested that they should be “destroyed.”

The Union of Journalists of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast posted the petition on its website on Tuesday, writing that it will be sent to Alexander Bastrykin, the head of Russia’s Investigative Committee, the agency responsible for probing claims of serious wrongdoing.

The petition begins, “on January 24, 2022, citizen of the Russian Federation Ramzan Kadyrov (head of the Chechen Republic) publicly called our colleagues ‘terrorists’ and ‘accomplices of terrorism.’” The authors also quote Kadyrov as saying that “we have always destroyed terrorists and their accomplices, there being no difference between them, and we will do so in the future.”

The petition also cites recent comments by Adam Delimkhanov, a Chechen MP who called for the family of former judge Saidi Yangulbayev to be hunted down and beheaded earlier this month, after Yangulbayev’s wife, Zarema Musaeva, was detained at her home by Chechen enforcers and brought to the city of Grozny.

Musaeva was subsequently charged with attacking a police officer and formally arrested. Their son, anti-torture activist Abubakar Yangulbayev, is believed to be behind a Telegram channel that is prohibited in Russia.

The authors of the petition accuse Kadyrov and Delimkhanov of violating the rights of the Yangulbayev family, many of whom now live abroad, and the journalists Kadyrov referred to, some of whom had been involved in investigating Musaeva’s arrest. The Union of Journalists has requested a formal investigation into the matter by the Russian authorities.

Earlier this month, the editors of news outlet Echo of Moscow publicly requested that President Vladimir Putin step in to deal with Kadyrov. Alexey Venediktov, the radio station’s editor-in-chief, wrote on Telegram, “we direct the attention of law enforcement agencies to the statements of this high-ranking official, a general in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which are against the laws of the Russian Federation. We ask the Russian President, as the guardian of the constitution, to intervene in the situation.”

That same week, Nobel Prize-winning journalist Dmitry Muratov, editor of newspaper Novaya Gazeta, announced that Elena Milashina, one of the reporters Kadyrov called an “accomplice of terrorism,” had temporarily left the country “in view of numerous personal threats.” Novaya Gazeta stated that Milashina’s relocation “will not affect the coverage of the topic of human rights in Chechnya.”