Vienna, 19 April 2017 - The South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) was horrified to learn about the threats and pressures daily paper Novaya Gazeta has been receiving after publishing details of an investigative story revealing serious human rights violations.
In early April, Novaya Gazeta published several articles detailing the horrific practices of Chechen police members who round up persons rumored or perceived to be gay, and detain them for days and even weeks. The men in question are commonly tortured, humiliated and outed to their families. Three have been killed so far due to these practices.
On 3 April, a gathering was organized in the capital Grozny, with more than 15,000 people in attendance to “protest against the articles”, and included religious leaders, public figures and officials. An advisor to the head of the Chechen Republic held a speech during which he deemed journalists of this daily as “enemies to our faith and motherland” and accused the paper of defamation. Following this, threats directed to Novaya Gazeta and the author of the investigative piece, Elena Milashina, reached dangerous levels, and were mentioned by the daily itself in a statement published on 14 April.
On 15 April, Chechnya's press and information Minister posted a public letter in which he demanded that the “newspaper apologize to the Chechen people” and reprimanded them for even suggesting the possibility the existence of gay men within their society.
Elena Milashina, renowned investigative journalist, left Moscow following the threats she kept receiving, fearing for her safety. </p>
<p>On 19 April, the headquarters of the Novaya Gazeta received an envelope containing an unidentified white powder-like substance from an unknown sender.
SEEMO is a network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in South, East and Central Europe and its press freedom work is supported by the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) project, as part of a grant by the European Commission.