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Mufti of Chechnya promises Novaya Gazeta journalists Allah’s retribution

Chechnya’s Mufti Salah-haji Mezhiev said that the authors of articles on the persecution of Chechnya’s homosexuals will be subjected to “Allah’s retribution”, reported radio station “Moskva Govorit”.

“The retribution of the Almighty Allah will overtake them without fail ... They should have feared this when they spread unsubstantiated slander. They should have feared being held accountable. They will answer any case at present, that is under the law of the Russian Federation,” said Mezhiev.

Mezhiev says journalists who have reported this story are guilty of offending the entire Chechen people and Chechnya’s clergy.

The radio station interviewed Mezhiev after Novaya Gazeta’s editorial office reported on calls for the massacre of journalists at a meeting of Grozny’s central mosque. The resolution released following the meeting read: “We promise that the true instigators will be subjected to retribution, wherever and whoever they are, without statute of limitations.”

Novaya Gazeta issued a statement stating that the resolution “pushed religious fanatics to retaliate against journalists.” The editorial staff noted that it is dangerous for its staff to work in Chechnya. “The unresolved murders of our colleagues Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova serve as obvious proof,” read the newspaper’s statement.

The newspaper demanded that Russian authorities stop actions aimed at inciting hatred towards journalists.

After the publication of Novaya Gazeta’s article, the newspaper’s website temporarily stopped working, presumably because of the DDoS attack.

Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for the Russian president, said that the Kremlin was “categorically against” illegal methods of interfering with journalists.

“If someone thinks that a newspaper [article] is defamatory or distorts reality, there are legal methods of challenging this and calling the authors to account,” said Peskov.

In early April, Novaya Gazeta reported that more than 100 people were detained on suspicion of being homosexuals in Chechnya in recent months. According to the publication, detainees were kept in secret prisons, tortured, and forced to denounce other homosexuals; three people were killed. Chechen authorities called these statements a lie.

On April 11, Novaya Gazeta and human rights organization Agora appealed to a court in light of the inaction of Russia’s Investigative Committee, which did not respond to reports of the crime within 10 days, as required by law.