Metro Weekly

Russian reporter who broke story on Chechnya’s torture of gay men attacked by gang

Elena Milashina claims the attack against her appeared "coordinated, orchestrated"

chechnya, gay, torture

Elena Milashina – Photo: Facebook.

The Russian journalist who first broke the story of human rights abuses in Chechnya where gay men and lesbians were abducted, imprisoned, and tortured in secret prisons was attacked by a mob of about 15 people in the Chechen capital Grozny.

Elena Milashina, a reporter for the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was accompanied on a recent trip to Chechnya by human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovinato, who came to Chechnya to defend a blogger under allegedly trumped-up weapons charges after filming a video of expensive properties owned by the family of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

The two women were returning to the Continental hotel in Grozny from a cafe across the street when they were accosted by a group of 15 people, both men and women, reports the New York Daily News.

According to Novaya Gazeta, it was primarily the women in the group beat Milashina and Dubrovina with their hands and kicked them while the men filmed the attack.

Eventually, one of the male attackers told the group to stop and leave the hotel. 

Milashina later posted a photo to Facebook showing bruises on her face.

“It was coordinated, orchestrated,” Milashina told BBC Russian. “These were thugs, provocateurs; female thugs carried out this punitive attack. They were young women, girls, and the men were standing close by and giving them instructions.”

Milashina has said she believes Chechen authorities were behind the attack.

Amnesty International denounced the attack against the two women, saying it’s an example of Chechnya’s crackdown against dissent and defenders of human rights.

“This brazen attack is appalling,” Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia deputy director, said in a statement. “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,” Krivosheev added. “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.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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