According to the Memorial human rights group, a renowned Russian investigative journalist has been hospitalized after a severe assault by armed attackers during her visit to Chechnya.
In a social media statement, the group reported that Elena Milashina had her fingers broken and was experiencing intermittent loss of consciousness, along with extensive bruising on her body.
The incident occurred early on Tuesday when Milashina, accompanied by Alexander Nemov, a lawyer, was en route from the airport. They were subjected to brutal kicks, including to the face, received death threats, and were even threatened at gunpoint. Additionally, their equipment was confiscated and destroyed, as stated by Memorial.
The Committee Against Torture, another human rights organization, released photographs of Milashina in the hospital, revealing her head shaved and covered in a green-colored dye commonly used for treating wounds, while her hands were bandaged.
Reporters Without Borders, a media rights group, expressed their horror at the vicious attack on Milashina. Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s leading independent publication and Milashina’s employer, confirmed the incident, informing that both Milashina and Nemov were currently receiving medical treatment in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya.
Milashina had traveled to Grozny to attend the trial of Zarema Musayeva, the mother of three exiles who have been critical of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Musayeva had been arrested by Chechen forces in January of the previous year in Nizhny Novgorod, a city located over 1,000 miles north of Chechnya.
Last year in February, Novaya Gazeta had reported that Milashina had temporarily left Russia due to death threats received from the Chechen authorities. Chechnya, a Russian republic, is governed by Ramzan Kadyrov, a former warlord and military officer closely aligned with the Kremlin.
Recently, Kadyrov dispatched forces to support Russia’s military in response to a brief rebellion staged by Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner mercenary group.
For years, Milashina has been reporting on human rights abuses in Chechnya for Novaya Gazeta. The publication, whose chief editor Dmitry Muratov was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2021, has seen the deaths of six journalists and contributors since 2000, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya.
Milashina’s work in highlighting rights violations in Chechnya follows the path of Politkovskaya, a vocal critic of the Kremlin’s Chechnya policies, who was assassinated in 2006.
Tatyana Moskalkova, the Russian human rights commissioner, was quoted by Russian news agencies stating that the incident “must be thoroughly investigated, and the perpetrators brought to justice.” Moskalkova mentioned that Milashina would be transferred to another hospital in a nearby region and reassured that the journalist’s security would be fully ensured.
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