The European Union has come out in support of Novaya Gazeta, which is subjected to “intimidation by the Chechen authorities,” and also demanded an investigation into the cases of extrajudicial executions in the republic described by journalists. This is stated in the statement of the EU foreign policy service.

After the publication in Novaya Gazeta of an article by Yelena Milashina revealing extrajudicial executions in Chechnya, the journalist and the publication became targets of unacceptable verbal attacks, an ongoing smear campaign and intimidation by the Chechen authorities. The European Union expects the Russian authorities to stop these attacks and to investigate the information contained in the article.

Milashina’s article complements an already significant body of credible media and international human rights reports detailing ongoing human rights violations in Chechnya. All cases of extrajudicial executions, torture and other serious human rights violations committed in recent years must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice.

EU officials called on Russia to uphold its human rights obligations and provide protection for media workers. “Journalists should be able to work in a safe environment without fear of reprisals,” the statement said.

  • On March 15, Novaya Gazeta published the story of Suleiman Gezmakhmaev, a native of Chechnya, who had previously served in the Akhmat Kadyrov patrol and guard regiment. He told how in 2017 he participated in the detention and interrogation of people who were later tortured and killed.
  • On March 18, soldiers of the Akhmat Kadyrov regiment asked Vladimir Putin to “stop the insults” against them by Novaya Gazeta. Presidential press secretary Dmitry Peskov responded by saying that Putin had been addressed “to the wrong address.” He offered the Chechen security officials to settle their differences with the newspaper in court. At the same time, Peskov noted that “the safety of journalists must be absolutely indisputable.”
  • Later, Ramzan Kadyrov expressed bewilderment in connection with Peskov’s statement. According to the head of Chechnya, he believed that “people can turn to the president with a request to understand the issues that concern them.” Kadyrov also said that the employees of Novaya Gazeta “are agents of well-known Western services who have gotten away from impunity, and not journalists.”