Unknown perpetrators have attacked Novaya Gazeta reporter Elena Milashina and attorney Alexander Nemov in Chechnya, the Crew Against Torture reports.
Armed men stopped their car on the way from the airport. According to the Crew Against Torture, they severely beat Milashina and Nemov, kicking their bodies and faces with their feet. They also seized and smashed their equipment.
Elena Milashina at the hospital. Photo: Crew Against Torture
Nemov says that on the way from the airport, three cars blocked the road in front of them. The attackers threatened to shoot Milashina and Nemov and put a gun against their heads.
Milashina has several broken fingers, she has been going in and out of consciousness,
the Crew Against Torture adds. Nemov has a wounded leg, he was likely stabbed with a knife. He is conscious.
Crew Against Torture posted a video where Elena Milashina recounts the attack on her and lawyer Alexander Nemov.
“They were already waiting for us at the airport. Alexander believes that some of them were flying with us. <...> They started following us immediately after we got in the taxi.”
“We drove about 500 metres. Three cars caught up with us, at least four people in each of them. They threw the taxi driver out of the car. We were placed head down, they tried to tie my hands behind my back. It seems that Alexander was stabbed with a small knife then, he started bleeding.”
“They dragged us into a ditch and started beating us. There were at least 10-15 of them. Some were looking through our bags. They demanded that we put in the passwords on our devices. They were demanding ‘Say the numbers’ <...>. I said I could put it in but not while I’m being battered.”
“They shaved my head, not the doctors. I don’t have wounds, only bruises. Alexander has a stab wound. They beat me up with polypropylene pipes that they usually use against detainees in Chechnya. I saw for myself that it’s a very powerful weapon. It’s very sore, like a burn.”
“They were threatening to cut off my fingers, and pressed the knife against me. Then, they started hitting my fingers with a stick, one by one, threatening to break them. Nothing is broken still, only a serious bruise.”
Elena Milashina also said that she wants to attend the appeal hearing in the case of Zarema Musaeva. “Women in the Caucasus were never taken captive. They were beaten up, killed, but never taken hostage,” she said.
Milashina and Nemov were asked to give a statement to the police at the hospital, but they refused.
Head of the Crew Against Torture Sergey Babinets said that the attackers had mentioned Milashina’s work and previous court hearings that she wrote about while they were beating them. It seems that they were attacked for their work, he added.
The perpetrators said that the attack came because of Milashina’s and Nemov’s human rights activism. “You were warned. Leave this place and don’t write anything,” the attackers threatened them.
Photo: Crew Against Torture
“Several masked people severely beat Elena and Alexander, took their phones, demanding they unblocked them, destroyed their equipment and documents. They beat them with batons and kicked them with their feet.
Elena Milashina has a closed head wound and several broken fingers on her hands. The doctors do not share the results of her MRI scan. Elena has passed out several times.
Attorney Nemov was beaten and stabbed with a knife. However, he still plans to attend the court hearing.
Russian Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova agreed to intervene in the situation on the request of the editorial office,” Novaya Gazeta wrote.
A video published from the hospital by Ostorozhno Novosti Telegram channel shows Milashina lying on the hospital bed. She recalls the attack to Chechnya human rights commissioner Mansur Soltayev: “It’s a classic kidnapping, just like before. It hasn’t happened in a while though. They threw out the taxi driver from the car, got inside, pushed our heads down, tied my hands, forced me to kneel, held a gun to my head. They seemed to be nervous though, they couldn’t even tie my hands well.”
At the request of Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova intervened in the case. Following her phone conversation with Chechnya head Ramzan Kadyrov, Milashina and Nemov were rushed to a hospital in Beslan. Chechen human rights commissioner Mansur Soltaev accompanied them in the ambulance.
Latest reports suggest that Milashina and Nemov are currently in Beslan’s North Caucasus multi-purpose medical centre.
The footage published by Sapa shows that Milashina still periodically faints.
Vladimir Putin was informed about the attack on Novaya Gazeta reporter Elena Milashina and attorney Alexander Nemov in Chechnya.
The Kremlin stated that it is a “very serious” attack that requires “energetic measures” and needs to be investigated.
The Chechen Interior Ministry has launched a probe following the attack on Milashina and Nemov, the agency said in a statement.
Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov commented on the attack on Milashina and Nemov:
“We will get to the bottom of this. I have instructed relevant agencies to make every effort to identify the attackers. The agencies got to work immediately after the reports about what happened emerged,” he said.
Elena Milashina has been working at Novaya Gazeta for more than 25 years, since 1997. According to her colleagues, she initially wanted to write articles about “animals and culture”, but her life turned out differently. She is known for her investigations about the Kursk submarine disaster, the Beslan school siege, human rights violations in Chechnya (following in assassinated journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s footsteps), and executions of gays in Chechnya. Milashina was faced with many threats, including death ones. She left Russia in February 2022 but soon returned to her home country.
The reporter and the attorney came to Grozny to attend the court ruling in the case of Zarema Musaeva. Musaeva is the mother of persecuted Chechen activists, Abubakar and Ibragim Yangulbaev. She was kidnapped in January 2022 from Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod and transported to a pre-trial jail in Grozny. The woman was charged with “using violence against a police officer”, she faces up to 5.5 years in prison.
Musaeva’s son says that during her time in jail, her eyesight has deteriorated; She also has severed back pain that practically prevents her from moving. It was reported in June that she had been sent to a hospital.