Brussels, 7 February 2020. Yesterday evening prominent Russian human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina and journalist Elena Milashina from Novaya Gazeta were physically assaulted in Grozny, Chechnya. IPHR deplores this attack, which appears to be part of a broader pattern, and calls on the authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into it and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
According to multiple sources, a group of men and women in civilian clothes attacked the two women at the entrance of Hotel Continent in Grozny at around 23:20 on 6 February, beating and kicking them. As a result of the attack, Marina Dubrovina received multiple injuries, including brain concussion. Elena Milashina first reported about the incident on Facebook, publishing a copy of a complaint filed with the police.
Dubrovina traveled to Grozny from Moscow on 6 February in order to represent her client Islam Nukhanov in court, and Milashina accompanied her on this trip to cover the court proceedings. It is believed that the attack against the two women may be related to their work on the case against Nukhanov, a blogger who was detained and prosecuted after posting a video filmed in an exclusive Grozny neighborhood where people associated with Chechnya’s ruling elite allegedly reside.
The attack on Dubrovina and Milashina was not the first incident of this kind. Human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists who assist and highlight the plight of victims of human rights violations in Chechnya have repeatedly been attacked and sometimes killed.
Marina Dubrovina is a high-profile human rights lawyer, working on strategic, sensitive human rights cases related to issues that are inconvenient for those in power. She closely cooperates with the Human Rights Center “Memorial” in the Krasnodar region and in the Chechen Republic.
Elena Milashina is an award winning Russian journalist with a track record of exposing gross human rights abuses and corruption including in Chechnya and other North Caucasian republics.
In view of yesterday’s attack, IPHR reminds the Russian authorities of their obligation to take effective measures to protect human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists working in Chechnya and to prevent similar assaults from taking place in the future.