Russia: Immediately investigate threats against journalists of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta

This article was sourced from PEN International and The Independent UK.

PEN Center USA joins PEN International in calling on Russian authorities to immediately investigate threats against journalists of Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.

The newspaper recently reported on the widespread abduction, detention, and torture of over 100 men perceived to be gay under Chechen leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov, claiming that at least three men had been killed. Local and international human rights organizations also confirmed similar reports from credible sources.

Novaya Gazeta’s journalists have since faced alarming threats against their lives. In retaliation to the newspaper’s article, some 15,000 protesters gathered in Chechnya’s capital Grozny on April 3, openly promoting violence against Novaya Gazeta.

Adam Shakhidov, an advisor to Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, identified the newspaper and its staff as “the enemies of our faith and homeland” in a speech at the protest, and assured that those behind the article would “face reprisals, whoever they are and wherever they are.”

Elena Milashina, the investigative journalist who first covered the story, has left her apartment in Moscow and announced that she plans to leave Russia in fear for her safety.

Milashina’s concerns remain valid. Her colleague Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead ten years ago, and those responsible for the killing have yet to be brought to justice. On April 19, Novaya Gazeta said it had received an envelope containing an unidentified white powder, further validating threats of violence.

Former US Republican presidential candidate and Senator Marco Rubio condemned the deplorable actions of Chechen leaders on April 25, and encouraged the US government to intervene:

“We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, or their sexual orientation. The United States and other responsible nations should do more to ensure that all people are protected, and those who harm them are held responsible.”

PEN Center USA demands that Russian authorities ensure the safety of Novaya Gazeta’s staff, and that Ramzan Kadyrov publicly acknowledge and denounce the horrific acts of violence and torture carried out against gay men in Chechnya.

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