7 Feb 2020 21:19

U.S. Embassy concerned by reports of attack on journalist, lawyer in Chechnya

MOSCOW. Feb 7 (Interfax) - The United States Embassy to Russia has expressed concern over an attack on journalist for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper Yelena Milashina and lawyer Marina Dubrovina in the city of Grozny and urged Russian authorities to ensure the safety and protection of human rights campaigners and reporters.

"We are alarmed by reports that Elena Milashina and Marina Dubrovina were attacked last night in Chechnya. We call on Russian authorities to ensure the safety and security of journalists and human rights defenders," the U.S. Embassy said on Twitter.

Novaya Gazeta said in a statement on its website that unidentified assailants attacked Milashina and Dubrovina in the lobby of the Kontinent hotel in Chechnya's capital of Grozny at 11:20 p.m. on Thursday. The women went to Grozny in order to attend the trial of Islam Nukhanov. According to the newspaper, a criminal case was launched against Nukhanov after he published material on the Internet about elite real estate belonging to Chechnya's leadership.

Novaya Gazeta later said that the attack on the lawyer and the journalist was committed by about 15 young men and women who "began pushing them, threw them to the ground, and began hitting them on their heads and stomachs, while filming it on camera."

"No serious injuries were uncovered at the emergency room. According to Milashina, her examination recorded abrasions and bruises of soft tissues, while a neurosurgeon refused to examine Marina Dubrovina," the newspaper said.

Milashina said she believed Chechen authorities were behind the attack on her and Dubrovina. Milashina said that she and Dubrovina would continue working in Chechnya no matter what.

Harlem Desir, Representative on Freedom of the Media at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has urged Russian authorities to conduct a swift investigation of the attack. Chechen police began investigating reports of the incident on Friday.