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‘She has bruises all over her body’ Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Milashina and lawyer Alexander Nemov attacked in Chechnya

Source: Meduza

On the morning of July 4, journalist Elena Milashina and lawyer Alexander Nemov were attacked in Grozny. Their car was intercepted by masked assailants on the way from the airport to the city. Milashina and Nemov were beaten with batons and kicked, including in the face. Novaya Gazeta reports the assailants took their phones and demanded they be unlocked; their equipment and documents were destroyed. Sergei Babinеts, head of the Crew Against Torture, said that the attackers “recalled for Milashina and Nemov all the trials and cases” they had handled. “This is clearly not a gang attack, but an attack for their activities,” he stressed.

Milashina and Nemov were taken to a local hospital. Milashina was diagnosed with a closed brain injury. They tried to break her fingers. “The journalist has bruises all over her body, her head is shaved bald and covered in green dye. According to her colleagues, “she cannot be transported in this condition without special assistance,” says Memorial. Novaya Gazeta reports that Milashina repeatedly lost consciousness, noting that doctors would not let her have an MRI scan. In addition to his injuries, Nemov suffered a stab wound.

Update: According to lawyer Sergei Babinets, Milashina and Nemov were taken to a hospital in Beslan later in the day on July 4. Then, at around 11:30 p.m. local time, Novaya Gazeta reported that Milashina and Nemov were returning to Moscow on a special evacuation flight. They were accompanied by Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov and former Ekho Moskvy editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov.

Milashina and Nemov had flown to Grozny for the sentencing of Zarema Musaeva. Musaeva is the mother of Abubakar Yangulbayev, a former lawyer for the Committee against Torture and one of the alleged founders of the Chechen opposition “Adat” movement, Ibrahim Yangulbayev. In January 2022, Chechen security forces kidnapped Musaeva in Nizhny Novgorod and took her to Chechnya. A case of violence against a police officer was filed against her. Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov claimed that while being transported from Nizhny Novgorod, Musaeva allegedly “attacked a police officer and almost took his eye out.” The prosecutor asked for Musaeva to be sentenced to five and a half years in a general regime penal colony.

Update: The Akhmatovsky district court of Grozny sentenced Zarema Musaeva to 5.5 years in a penal colony, finding her guilty of fraud and using violence against a police officer.
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More on Milashina

‘Anything but a hawk’ Elena Milashina has been writing about Chechnya for years — and thinks that Ramzan Kadyrov is trying to protect it from the worst

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the attack on Milashina and Nemov “a serious incident,” which “demands energetic measures.” He added that Russian president Vladimir Putin has been informed about the attack.

Russian Senator Andrey Klishas reported that the attack “demands a tough reaction from law enforcement agencies.” State Duma deputy Alexander Khinshtein wrote that “attacks on journalists (regardless of their positions) are criminal and unacceptable.” The deputy said that the State Duma’s committee on information policy will send an appeal requesting Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and Investigative Committee to take the investigation for “special control.”

Russian propagandist and Chairman of the Russian Union of Journalists Vladimir Solovyov told TASS that the Russian Union of Journalists and the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights are investigating the details of the attack. According to Solovyov, he hopes that those responsible will be punished.

Eva Merkacheva, a member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society, reported that she had prepared “questions for [head of Chechnya] Ramzan Kadyrov,” including whether “he thinks it is acceptable when such things happen on the republic’s territory, whether this is connected to certain attitudes toward women at the trial Milashina travelled to, whether he considers it normal when women are tortured and beaten, whether he thinks it’s acceptable when journalistic activities are obstructed.”

Another member of the Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights Alexander Brod reported about the “blatant incident” and said that he was preparing an appeal to Russia’s General Prosecutor’s Office.

Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media expressed support for the victims of this “monstrous attack.” “A journalist carrying out their work shouldn’t be persecuted or tortured. We hope that this case will be thoroughly investigated and that those responsible will be punished,” read a statement from the Ministry.

Novaya Gazeta stressed that Milashina came to Chechnya on a business trip, but now, as Novaya Gazeta told Meduza, “she doesn’t have the physical ability to continue.” Despite her injuries, Nemov intends to continue handling Musaeva’s case and represent her in court.

At Novaya Gazeta's request, human rights ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova intervened. The head of the Crew against Torture published a photo of Milashina talking to Moskalkova from the hospital.

Chechen leadership threatened Elena Milashina in connection with the case of Zarema Musaeva. In early 2022, Ramzan Kadyrov called for Milashina and human rights activist Igor Kalyapin “terrorists” and “terrorists’ accomplices,” and also called on law enforcement agencies to detain them. It was reported that Milashina was going to temporarily leave Russia following Kadyrov’s threats. Meduza, Dozhd, and Novaya Gazeta demanded she be protected and that Kadyrov stop.

Elena Milashina has already been attacked in Grozny. In 2020, the Novaya Gazeta journalist came to Chechnya in connection with the case of Islam Nukhanov, who had published a video about an elite settlement in the center of Grozny, where Ramzan Kadyrov’s relatives and inner circle lived, and was accused of illegal weapons possession. At that time, Milashina and lawyer Marina Dubrovina were attacked and beaten at their hotel entrance.

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