Following the Murder of Anti-Putin Blogger in France, 'Gay Purge' Activists Severely Beaten in Russia

Published February 8th, 2020 - 06:24 GMT
Human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina in a police vehicle, and journalist Elena Milashina following separate attacks in Chechnya. Elena Milashina/Facebook
Human rights lawyer Marina Dubrovina in a police vehicle, and journalist Elena Milashina following separate attacks in Chechnya. Elena Milashina/Facebook

Last week, a Chechen blogger and vocal critic of the Russian republic of Chechnya, died of multiple stab wounds in an attack at a hotel in northern France. This week, a human rights lawyer and an award-winning investigative reporter have been severely beaten in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Marina Dubrovina and Yelena Milashina, a correspondent for the liberal Novaya Gazeta newspaper, say they were attacked as they returned to their hotel this weekend. They were left with serious bruising after an assault that lasted 15 minutes. 

Their assailants, a group of 15 men and women, were reportedly waiting for them as they entered the hotel lobby. The women in the group were first to attack, Milashina said, but after a while the men joined in too. At least one of the men in the group was filming the event.

“They surrounded us by the lift and started to push back,” the journalist wrote on social media. “They grabbed us by the neck and head and smashed our heads against the marble floor, punched me in the stomach and pulled at my hair.” 

The two women linked the incident to their activism, and suggested the group had been made aware of their arrival in Grozny by a social media post.

Both Milashina and Dubrovina have spent much of the past two decades documenting growing human rights abuses in the region. In 2017, Milashina broke the news of a campaign of torture and worse being carried out against hundreds of gay men in the region. She has been the target of personal threats from Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

The incident happened after Imran Aliev, a 44-year-old blogger who was vocally opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, died when his throat was cut in France last week.

Kadyrov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has governed Chechnya since 2007, and several of his rivals have been killed in suspicious circumstances in recent years, including outside the Russian republic.


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