The physical assaults against journalist Elena Milashina and lawyer Marina Dubrovina in the entrance hall of a hotel in Grozny yesterday evening is the latest of a series of worrying attacks on human rights defenders and critics in the Chechen Republic.
The climate of hostility against independent civil society activists, human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists in Chechnya is often fomented by virulent and threatening speech of political leaders, including at the highest levels of the Republic, which in turn leads to impunity for those who committed these serious human rights violations.
I call on the Russian authorities at both regional and federal levels to urgently reverse this unacceptable situation and uphold their obligations to ensure that human rights defenders can work safely and freely.
The Russian authorities must also ensure the safety and security of Elena Milashina and Marina Dubrovina and carry out a prompt, independent and effective investigation and punish those responsible for organising and committing this offence.
Human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists carry out a crucial work in the public interest. They must be protected, and their invaluable contribution to the development of a society must be publicly acknowledged and respected.