- One of Russia’s top journalists decides to leave the country temporarily after receiving death threats.
- A newspaper says it has received threats in recent days from prominent representatives of Chechnya.
- However, she will continue to cover rights and politics in Chechnya.
MOSCOW: An award-winning investigative journalist, Elena Milashina, is temporarily leaving Russia after receiving death threats from Chechnya’s leadership, her newspaper said.
Milashina covered human rights violations in Chechnya for Russia’s main independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta years and won several international awards.
The newspaper said it had received threats in recent days from prominent representatives of Chechnya, a southern region of Russia where the Kremlin waged wars against separatists in the 1990s and 2000s.
“The editors have decided to send Elena Milashina on a business trip outside Russia,” Novaya Gazeta said in a statement, citing “numerous” threats from prominent Chechen figures.
Milashina, 44, will continue to cover rights and politics in Chechnya, where a local strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, emerged as leader after the wars.
“Her location will in no way affect coverage of rights issues in Chechnya,” the statement said.
Novaya Gazetawhose editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov won the Nobel Peace Prize last year, has since 2000 murdered six of his journalists and collaborators, including investigative reporter Anna Politkovskaya.
By focusing on human rights abuses in Chechnya, Milashina followed in the footsteps of Politkovskaya, a fierce critic of the Kremlin’s policies in Chechnya, who was shot dead in 2006.
Kadyrov called Milashina and human rights activist Igor Kalyapin “terrorists” in late January and urged law enforcement to detain them.
Chechen authorities this week staged what they say was a demonstration of 400,000 men against critics – including Milashina – in the region’s main city, Grozny.
Muratov told AFP on Friday that a decision had been made to send Milashina abroad after the rally.
“We can’t be sure who would come up with the idea of carrying out these threats,” he said, adding that it was difficult to know when Milashina might return.
Milashina told independent TV channel Dozhd that she was concerned about her safety.
“This is a very serious situation,” she said Thursday evening.
Milashina has received death threats in the past and previously had to leave Russia for several months.
Human rights groups have expressed concern over a recent series of alleged kidnappings, detentions and threats in tightly controlled Chechnya.
A Chechen lawmaker, Adam Delimkhanov, recently threatened on social media to “cut off the heads” of a critical judge and his family members.
Putin met with Kadyrov in the Kremlin on Wednesday, and the Kremlin spokesman subsequently denied that the situation in Chechnya had “got out of control”.