By Kanishka Singh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is “appalled” by a brutal attack in Chechnya against a prominent Russian journalist and lawyer, the State Department said in a statement on Thursday, and it urged Russia to conduct a transparent investigation. and to ensure justice.
Gunmen in masks on Tuesday attacked Yelena Milashina, a journalist with the Novaya Gazeta newspaper who was in Chechnya with lawyer Alexander Nemov when they were ambushed while driving from the airport, according to the employer and Milashina rights groups. Russia on Wednesday opened a criminal investigation into the attack.
Milashina and Nemov had planned to attend a hearing in the case of a woman they believed was unjustly persecuted for political reasons. The attack on them, in which their assailants pointed guns at their temples, shaved Milashina’s head, doused her with green dye and stabbed Nemov in the leg – prevented them from witnessing.
They were flown back to Moscow for medical treatment amid calls from the Kremlin for authorities in Chechnya, a Muslim-majority southern region ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, to investigate.
“The attack on Ms. Milashina is tragically the latest in a series of abuses against prominent investigative journalists in Russia that has met with little resistance from authorities,” the State Department said. . He accused Russia of violating international human rights obligations.
The Russian Investigative Committee, the equivalent of the US FBI, said in a statement on Wednesday that investigators in Chechnya had opened criminal charges.
Novaya Gazeta said Milashina was examined at a Moscow clinic which concluded that she had suffered a closed craniocerebral injury, up to 14 broken bones in her hands and multiple soft tissue contusions.
Milashina has spent years investigating alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya. Novaya Gazeta was one of Russia’s few independent news outlets until the government revoked its license last year.
(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington; Editing by Leslie Adler and Marguerita Choy)