On July 4, Novaya Gazeta
journalist Yelena Milashina and attorney Alexander Nemov were brutally beaten
in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, as they arrived for the announcement of the verdict in the case of Zarema Musaeva
, the mother of opposition activists Abubakar and Ibragim Yangulbayev who was kidnapped and taken to Chechnya in 2022 and charged with violence against a government official and fraud. The photos of Milashina beaten, doused with brilliant green antiseptic and forcibly shaved by her attackers traveled around the world and became another vivid testimony to the price that journalists and human rights defenders must pay today for their decision to continue their work in Russia, and especially in Chechnya.Russian attacks on human rights defenders
Attacks on journalists and human rights defenders are by no means a new phenomenon in contemporary Russia. In October 2006, Novaya Gazeta
journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered
in the entrance of her home in Moscow; in November 2007, Oleg Orlov, chairman of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Center, along with journalists from REN TV, were seized and beaten
in Ingushetia; in January 2009, Novaya Gazeta
freelance journalist Anastasia Baburova and well-known human rights activist and attorney Stanislav Markelov were shot dead
in Moscow; in July 2009, Natalya Estemirova, an employee of Memorial, was found shot dead
in Ingushetia; in December 2014, the office of the human rights organization Committee against Torture was burned down
in Grozny; the head of the committee, human rights defender Igor Kalyapin, has been repeatedly attacked – for example, in March 2016, in Grozny, he was beaten, doused
with brilliant green, and pelted with eggs, flour and cake.
These are just the most prominent of the many attacks on independent journalists, human rights defenders and civic activists in Putin's Russia. As a rule, it is extremely difficult
to effectively investigate crimes committed to silence those who fight for freedom of speech and human rights, and virtually impossible to bring the organizers to justice. In conducting investigations, executive authorities are guided by the will of the Kremlin rather than the letter of the law and will never do more than they are allowed to.