On February 18, Novaya Gazeta journalist Elena Milashina publicly appealed to Federal Investigative Committee head Alexander Bastrykin, requesting a criminal investigation into an attack against her and attorney Marina Dubrovina in Grozny on February 6. Milashina says the violent incident should be treated as a case of felony obstruction of professional activity by journalists, which is punishable in Russia by up to six years in prison. According to the text of the letter, shared on Novaya Gazeta’s website, she says she believes she was targeted because of her work as a reporter.
Novaya Gazeta’s editor-in-chief, Dmitry Muratov, has also asked Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova to ensure personally that Milashina’s request reaches Bastrykin directly. Additionally, Muratov has urged Moskalkova to raise the issue of “years of impunity” when it comes to crimes committed in Chechnya against journalists and human rights activists.
Asked about Milashina’s appeal, presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists that the Kremlin cannot interfere in investigations by law enforcement.
Late on February 6, multiple men and women attacked Milashina and Dubrovina at the entrance to the Continent Hotel in Grozny, Chechnya’s capital city. After the incident, Milashina stated that she’d previously received threats from Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya.
Six days after the attack, Novaya Gazeta’s newsroom received a threatening letter from someone named Anna Ikonnikova — possibly the administrator of the VKontakte group Podval Kadyrova (Kadyrov’s Cellar). The author said Milashina will face “a death sentence” if she doesn’t stop writing about Ramzan Kadyrov and Chechnya.