A group of United Nations (UN) human rights experts called on the Russian Federation on Friday to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators of a violent attack against journalist Yelena Milashina and human rights lawyer Alexander Nemov. The incident occurred on July 4 in the Russian Republic of Chechnya. Milashina was covering and Nemov was participating in the trial of Zarema Musaeva, the mother of exiled opposition activists who challenged the leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Milashina, who works for the independent investigative news service Novaya Gazeta, and Nemov were attacked by a group of masked assailants who beat them with clubs and kicked them, taking their phones, smashing their equipment and destroying their documents. During the attack, the perpetrators shouted at Milashina and Nemov to leave and not report anything. The two suffered severe injuries and were hospitalized in Grozny. Milashina was diagnosed with a closed head injury and lost consciousness periodically. Her fingers were broke and her body was covered in bruise. In addition, Milashina’s head was shaved by the attackers and doused with brilliant green, which is a form of humiliation against women in the North Caucasus.
UN human rights experts condemned the attack as an example of disregard for the safety of journalists and human rights activists in the Russian Federation, particularly in Chechnya. Milashina’s investigative work follows in the footsteps of two other journalists, Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova, who were murdered in Chechnya to silence their investigative work.
The experts also expressed concern about the ongoing threats to Milashina and Nemov’s lives and well-being due to their work. They called on Russia to end the current climate of impunity and ensure a safe environment for journalists and human rights activists and lawyers in line with its international obligations and commitments.