The union of journalists and media workers issued a statement on accusations on Novaya Gazeta and Elena Milashina, which states:
“The union of journalists and media workers expresses extreme anxiety and indignation at the threats addressed to Elena Milashina and Novaya Gazeta, which were expressed by the leader of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov and took place in Instagram on April 13 in connection with the publication of critical material about human rights violations during the fight against the virus in the republic.
The Novaya Gazeta and its journalists are also called in the speech by the politician “enemies of the people” and “foreign agents spreading fakes and harming the country”. On the same day, the Chechen leadership refused to investigate the fact that Milashina was beaten in the hotel lobby in Grozny.
Milashina and Novaya have been threatened regularly since the spring of 2017, when, following the publication of a violation of gay rights, the republic’s spiritual leaders called for reprisals against journalists. This outrageous fact, which caused a stormy reaction of the professional community in the world, did not receive a proper response from the authorities of the republic and the country.
On April 15, the Prosecutor General’s Office ordered Novaya Gazeta to block Milashina’s material on the newspaper’s website containing criticism of the Chechen leader as “unreliable”. The journalist faces persecution for "spreading fakes about the virus."
The union of journalists and media workers expresses solidarity with the newspaper and Elena Milashina and demands that the persecution of the journalist be stopped.
We agree with colleagues from the European Federation of Journalists that the concern for protecting citizens during a pandemic should not lead to a restriction on freedom of speech and the settlement of accounts with journalists.
We also demand a full-fledged independent investigation of the attack on Elena Milashina in Grozny and call for a principled assessment of the actions of the Chechen leadership in relation to Novaya Gazeta journalists...”.