On April 1, Novaya Gazeta reported a mass detentions and torture of gay people in Chechnya. We know the names of the those three, who were murdered. We also know that there are many more of those. The relatives of the victims conduct these extrajudicial killings, also known as “killings of honor”.
The reaction that followed the publication causes serious fears for the safety of not only selected journalists, but for Novaya Gazeta’s editorial staff overall.
On April 3, representatives of the 24 Chechen wirds held an emergency meeting in the central mosque in Grozny with 15 thousand people in attendance. At this meeting, Adam Shakhidov, an adviser to the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, publicly accused the Novaya Gazeta staff of slander and clearly identified them as "the enemies of our faith and our homeland."
Shahidov speech, as well as other speeches, was broadcast by local media and widely spread on the Internet, provoking a wave of discriminatory statements on social media.
This meeting ended up with a resolution. The second paragraph of this resolution contains an open call for violence:
“There was an insult to the centuries-old foundations of Chechen society, and to the dignity of Chechen men, as well as to our faith. Thus we promise that retribution will overtake the true instigators, wherever and by whomever they are, without a statute of limitations.”
It is obvious, that this resolution poses a threat to journalists and journalism. It is obvious for Novaya Gazeta’s staff that this new wave of repressions is not a unique case for today’s Chechnya. The level of violence has risen over the last 3 years. The lack of proper investigation of the homicide of Boris Nemtsov proves it. The impunity for this crime has given a rise to Chechen men’s complete confidence in their own invulnerability.
Silence and lack of action of those, who has the capacity to do something, mark them as accomplices.That's why Novaya Gazeta will continue its work in Chechnya. We well understand what a high price we can pay. The unresolved murders of our colleagues, Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova, exhibit the possible consequences we might face.
We insist that the reaction to investigative journalism that was voiced in the Central Mosque in Chechnya should not exist in a civilized society. It should be evaluated in accordance with the Russian law.
We call on the Russian authorities to do everything possible to stop the activities aimed at inciting hatred and enmity towards journalists, who fulfill their professional duties.
The Editorial Office of Novaya Gazeta.