Russian newspaper evacuates reporter labeled 'terrorist' by Chechen leader

Yelena Milashina is an investigative reporter focused on rights abuses in Chechnya who was described in a Telegram group as a "terrorist" who must be "eliminated."

 Re-elected head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov attends an inauguration ceremony in Grozny, Russia October 5, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/CHINGIS KONDAROV)
Re-elected head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov attends an inauguration ceremony in Grozny, Russia October 5, 2021.
(photo credit: REUTERS/CHINGIS KONDAROV)

Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper said it had sent journalist Yelena Milashina out of the country for her own safety after the leader of Chechnya described her last week as a terrorist.

Milashina is an investigative reporter focused on rights abuses in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim southern region overseen by Kremlin-backed head Ramzan Kadyrov who rose to power after two bloody wars that followed the 1991 Soviet breakup.

A Jan. 24 post on Kadyrov's Telegram social media account described Milashina and a human rights worker, Igor Kalyapin, as terrorists.

It also said: "We have always eliminated terrorists and their accomplices, between whom there is no difference."

Novaya Gazeta's Dmitry Muratov was named co-winner of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize last October and dedicated his award to six contributors to the newspaper who had been murdered for their work exposing human rights violations and corruption.

 Novaya gazeta logo (credit: Wikimedia Commons) Novaya gazeta logo (credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The paper said the decision to move Milashina was taken after she received numerous threats from "prominent representatives of the Chechen Republic."

Milashina, whose predecessor Anna Politkovskaya was gunned down near her Moscow apartment in 2006, commented on the decision to leave Russia for a while in an interview with the TV Rain channel late on Thursday.

"Both my chief editor and my fairly high-placed sources are insisting on this and say the threat to my personal safety is high. So I will listen to them, although I really don't like doing this, I don't like these kinds of things," she said.