Reacting to news of a mob attack late last night, in the Chechen capital Grozny, on two visiting human rights activists – one of whom is investigative journalist Elena Milashina, who uncovered a vicious campaign of abduction, torture and killings against gay men in Chechnya two years ago, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, said:
“This brazen attack is appalling. Last year Kremlin-appointed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov openly warned he would bar human rights defenders from Chechnya and threatened them with violence. Now, such violence is taking place.
“This is the latest in a string of vicious attacks on vocal critics in Chechnya and is the direct outcome of such threats coupled with the complete impunity for the perpetrators of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and torture of Kadyrov’s critics.
“Only effective investigation of this and all past attacks can put an end to the lawlessness that currently reigns in Chechnya. As there is little hope for effective investigation at the local level, the federal Russian authorities must step in, but so far they have clearly indicated that they have no intention of doing so.”
Elena Milashina who broke the story of the campaign of abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya two years ago and human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina were attacked by a mob in the foyer of the Continent Hotel on the evening of 6 February. The attackers slapped and punched Elena and Marina. The assailants filmed their actions on camera. Then one of them, a male, told them to leave and the mob exited the hotel unobstructed.
Marina Dubrovina arrived in Grozny to represent as legal counsel the interests of Islam Nukhanov, a blogger who took a video of expensive properties allegedly belonging to families associated with Chechnya’s leadership. After he published the video on YouTube, Nukhanov was detained and later accused of illegal possession of arms, a charge he denies. Elena Milashina was planning to attend Nukhanov’s trial as journalist.