Joint statement by watchdog organisations engaged in the Council of Europe’s Platform to protect the safety of journalists, 6th of July, 2023.
The appalling violence inflicted by several masked assailants on 4 July against journalist Elena Milashina and lawyer Alexander Nemov in Chechnya is the most recent dreadful demonstration of the dehumanising climate of hatred and intimidation directed against journalists and human rights defenders in today’s Russia. The victims of this attack suffered severe injuries after their car was forcibly stopped on the road between the airport and the city of Grozny. Reports from Memorial, a leading human rights organisation dissolved by the Russian state in 2021, suggest that both were targeted explicitly for their work. One of the perpetrators allegedly shouted “you have been warned – leave here and write nothing” before taking the victims’ phones and destroying their documents and equipment.
The undersigned partner organisations of the Council of Europe’s Platform for the safety of journalists utterly condemn the attack and demand that police and prosecutors act to identify and punish those responsible without delay. Any state that allows impunity for crimes against journalists sets the foundation for further attacks and a continued degradation of media freedom.
Although Russia was expelled from the Council of Europe last year because of its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and related serious violations of international law, the country must fulfill its commitments and legal obligations under domestic law and in accordance with the UN Charter. We call on Russia’s leaders and on all in positions of authority in Russia to turn back from the path of lawlessness, and to put an end to the widespread threats and acts of violence against journalists, as well as others who exercise their right to free speech and peaceful protest.
Justice for Journalists (JFJ)
Association of European Journalists (AEJ)
Index on Censorship
European Federation of Journalists (EFJ)
International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
International Press Institute (IPI)
Reporters Without Borders (RSF)