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‘Novaya Gazeta’ puts potential lawsuit against Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov to a vote

Source: RBC

The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta may file a lawsuit against Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov due to his reaction to a recent investigation into extrajudicial killings in Chechnya. On Friday, March 19, Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov told RBC that the newspaper is asking its readers to vote on the question of filing the claim. 

Muratov said that he doesn’t want to sue Kadyrov, but is considering legal action “after a series of completely personal and unacceptable attacks on the newspaper and its employees.”

Kadyrov calls us foreign agents and [the reason] American sanctions are applied against our country. I would like to quote the president of the Russian Federation and say look who’s talking. 

Voting on the potential suit against Kadyrov began on Novaya Gazeta’s website on Thursday, March 18. Voters are being asked to choose between “Filing a lawsuit against Kadyrov” or “Not filing a lawsuit, so as no to legitimize all this nonsense.” At the time of this writing, more than 5,000 people had cast a vote. 

“In a few days we’ll tally up the voting results and if the proportionality remains as we see now, then a meeting in court is inevitable,” Muratov told RBC, adding that at that time, 75 percent of participants were in favor of the lawsuit . 

Update. Ramzan Kadyrov has announced that he’s prepared to sue Novaya Gazeta. “I believe in the honesty of our judicial process. So go ahead! We’ll see who comes out on top,” he wrote on Telegram.

On March 15, Novaya Gazeta published a report featuring revelations from Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, a former officer in Chechnya’s Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment. Gezmakhmaev recounted his involvement in arresting and interrogating people who were subsequently executed en masse in 2017 (he denies any involvement in torturing and killing these locals).

The Chechen authorities rejected the report as slander. On March 17, a rally took place in Grozny where demonstrators protested against Milashina’s article and demanded the closure of Novaya Gazeta. The next day, officers from the Akhmat Kadyrov Police Patrol Service Regiment appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin to “stop the insults” from Novaya Gazeta.  

Commenting on the request, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the appeal was “addressed to the wrong person” and urged the Chechen security officials to settle their differences with Novaya Gazeta  in court.

Ramzan Kadyrov said he was “puzzled” by Peskov’s statement, adding “I thought people could turn to the president with a request to look into the issues that concern them.” The Chechen leader also described Novaya Gazeta’s reporters as “agents of well-known Western [intelligence] services, and not journalists.” 

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