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Russia
13.01.17
Urgent Interventions

Threats against Caucasian Knot Editor by Chechnya's Parliament Speaker Must Be Investigated

Paris-Geneva-Brussels, January 13, 2017. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, anFIDH-OMCT partnership, together with the Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC)“Memorial”, strongly denounce the threats made by the Speaker of the ChechenParliament Magomed Daudov via Instagram against the team of the independentnews portal Caucasian Knot, including Grigorii Shvedov, human rights journalist and Editor-in-chief.

On January 5, 2017, the Speaker of the Chechen Parliament Magomed Daudovpublished a post on his Instagram account entitled “How to untie the CaucasianKnot?”. The post refers to GrigoriiShvedov as a dog nicknamed “Shved” whose “wisdom teeth must be pulledout” and “long tongue shortened” for “prattling” in the Caucasian Knot.On January 9, 2017, Grigorii Shvedov filed a complaint to the InvestigativeCommittee of the Russian Federation.

The Caucasian Knot is anindependent Russian media portal founded in 2001 known for reporting on humanrights abuses in the Caucasus region, including Chechnya.

The post implicitly calls for acts of violence againstthe Caucasian Knot team, including inparticular Mr. Shvedov. The fact that it has already gathered close to 2,000 “likes”and numerous hateful comments show that the message “has been accepted”,creating a climate for a possible crime.

Our organisations recall that human rights defenders, including inparticular human rights journalists, have been targets of violence andcriminalisation in Chechnya. Last year, Chechnya-based Caucasian Knotjournalist ZhalaudiGeriev was sentenced to three years in prisonon trumped up charges[1]. On December 28, 2016, the Supreme Court of Chechnya rejected hisappeal. Moreover, on January 10, 2017, five unidentified masked men attackedand beat Caucasian Knot journalist Vladislav Ryazantsev in Rostov-na-Donu.

It is inadmissible and irresponsible for a representative of theChechen authorities to publicly threaten a human rights defender andeditor-in-chief of a news portal. State authorities should ensure and promote aconducive environment for human rights defenders”, stated GeraldStaberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

The authorities of the Russian Federation should investigate thethreats which, in the context of impunity prevailing in the Chechen Republic,constitutes a real danger for Mr. Shvedov and the news portal team”,added Stefania Kulaeva, Director of ADC Memorial, FIDH member organisation.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (theObservatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and OMCT. The objective of thisprogramme is to intervene to prevent or remedy situations of repressionagainst human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both membersof ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implementedby international civil society.

For more information, please contact:

• FIDH: Audrey Couprie: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

• OMCT: Miguel Martín Zumalacárregui / DelphineReculeau: +41 22 809 49 39

Background information

In a context where human rights groups have beenfacing increasing difficulties in reporting on the human rights situation inChechnya, the Caucasian Knot hasbecome one of the last sources providing daily reports on the human rightssituation. For this reason, the Chechnya's leadership has been particularlytargeting the new portal with a smear and stigmatisation campaign.

Many journalists have been murdered for investigatingwar crimes and human rights violations in Chechnya. The killings of AnnaPolitkovsklaya, NataliaEstemirova and Stanislav Markelov are the most illustrious cases.All these cases remain in impunity.

On March 9, 2016, several journalists and human rights workers of theJoint Mobile Group, who were on a press tour in North Caucasus, were brutally attacked at the border between Ingushetia and Chechnya[2].

The Joint Mobile Group led by the Committee for the Prevention of Torture,an OMCT member organisation, was attacked several times over the last years,including their office and their head Igor Kalyapin in person[3]. The attacks have never been duly investigated andthose responsible have never been brought to justice. Attacks even intensifiedfollowing a post on Instagram by the Headof the Chechen Republic, Mr. Ramzan Kadyrov onDecember 10, 2014, accusing Mr. Kalyapin of supporting terrorist attacksin Chechnya.

Magomed Daudov is known for his recurrent acts of violence.On October 6, 2016, he beat up the President of the Supreme Court of theChechen Republic and repeated open threats to the critics in his social networkaccounts. He is known for his unconditional support to Chechnya's PresidentRamzan Kadyrov.

[1] SeeObservatory Joint Press Release, September 9, 2016.

[2]See Observatory Press Release, March 14, 2016.

[3]See Observatory Urgent Appeal RUS 004 / 1214 / OBS 093.1, issued on March23, 2016.

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