The Russian Federation: ICJ urges investigation of Chechnya attack on a lawyer and a journalist

The ICJ expresses concern at today’s physical assault of a lawyer and a journalist, who arrived in Grozny to take part in the trial of blogger Islam Nukhanov.

The ICJ called on the authorities of the Russian Federation and its Chechen local authorities to investigate the attack and ensure that those responsible be brought to justice.

On 6 February, at around 22.00 lawyer Marina Dubrovina (photo) and Yelena Milashina, a journalist of Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, were beaten up by a group of young women in the lobby of the “Kontinent” Hotel in Grozny, Chechnya.

Both women suffered injuries to the face and body. Dubrovina and Milashina had come to Grozny to observe the trial of Islam Nukhanov, a blogger from the town of Kogalzm in the Tumen Oblast of the Russian Federation, charged with possession of a weapon, who has been detained by Chechen police since November 2019 after he posted a video on YouTube, with footage allegedly taken near the residence of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.

On 7 February, neither Dubrovina nor Milashina was admitted to the courtroom where Nukhanov was tried, due to the public and the media reportedly being excluded from the hearing.

The ICJ urges the federal and local authorities of the Russian Federation, to investigate the attack against Dubrovina and Milashina in a prompt and independent manner.

Measures should be taken to ensure that lawyers, especially when exercising their professional duties, are protected against such attacks.

Furthermore, Islam Nukhanov’s trial should be held in public, unless and until the authorities demonstrate that the circumstances of his trial require that the public and the media be excluded from it, consistent with relevant international fair trial standards.

Background

Islam Nukhanov, 27, is a blogger of Chechen origin was apprehended on 1 November 2019 in Grozny after he posted a video clip where he filmed streets and houses in Grozny, allegedly, near the residence of the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov. Since his apprehension, Nukhanov has been in detention.

In 2018, the ICJ expressed concern at allegations that the arrest and detention of Oyub Titiev, the head of the Chechen branch of the Russian human rights organisation Memorial, was carried out as retaliation for his human rights activity.

In 2016, the ICJ expressed concern at the reported resignations of federal judges in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation following apparent pressure by the acting Head of the Republic Ramzan Kadyrov who had suggested that resignation would be the “most correct decision of their lives”

The ICJ is concerned at the regular attacks on lawyers and human rights defenders in Chechnya, which are systemic and may have the purpose of intimidating those who wish to defend human rights in the Chechen Republic of the Russian Federation.

The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers provide that “where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities”.

 

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