A prominent Russian journalist and a lawyer were attacked and suffered serious injuries after several masked men in the Russian region of Chechnya forced their car to stop on Tuesday, the journalist's employer and rights groups said in statements.
Yelena Milashina, a well-known journalist for the Novaya Gazeta newspaper, which has lost its license in Russia, was traveling to the Chechen capital Grozny from the local airport with Alexander Nemov, a lawyer, when they were attacked.
Milashina and Nemov, who had planned to attend a court hearing later on Tuesday, are now in a hospital in Grozny.
There was no immediate comment from the authorities in Chechnya.
Milashina suffered a brutal beating
The attackers shaved Milashina's head, broke several of her fingers and covered her head with green dye, according to human rights group Memorial, which said she had lost consciousness several times .
"They were brutally kicked, including in the face, threatened with death, had a gun held to their heads, and had their equipment taken away and smashed," Memorial said in a statement on Telegram.
"While being beaten, they were told: "You have been warned. Get out of here and don't write anything".
A photograph of Milashina posted on social media showed her sitting on a hospital bed with her face covered in green dye, her head shaved, and bandages on her left arm and right hand.
Rights group "Team against Torture" said Nemov had been stabbed in the leg.
Their attackers had made it clear the duo was being punished for their activism and reporting, it said.
Milashina and Nemov were in Chechnya to cover the sentencing by a court of Zarema Musayeva, a Chechen woman charged with assaulting a policeman.
A Russian court last year stripped Novaya Gazeta, led by Dmitry Muratov, a Nobel Peace laureate, of its media license, a move Muratov said was politically-motivated.