Journalists and human rights defenders attacked in Russia

A violent attack by unknown assailants against a group of eight journalists and human rights activists occurred on 9 March at the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia, in Russia.

The International and European Federations of journalists (IFJ/EFJ) joined their affiliate, the Russian Union of Journalists (RUJ), in condemning the beating of journalists and human rights defenders and called on the Russian authorities to investigate the case and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

About 50 kilometers from Grozny, on the main road to Baku, a press tour organised by the Russian Committee on Prevention of Torture was forced to stop by a group of armed and masked men. The group shouted: “You defend terrorists, murderers of our fathers!”, media reported.

The eight passengers and the driver were forced from their vehicle and beaten up. Their minibus was set on fire.

At least four people were hospitalised.

Six journalists were targeted by the attack: Oeystein Windstad (Norway), Maria Persson Löfgren (Sweden), Egor Skovoroda (Russia), Aleksandra Elagina (Russia), Mikhail Solunin (Russia) and Anton Prusakov (Russia).

The RUJ has sent a request to the General prosecutor’s office, demanding an urgent investigation. " We must do our best to investigate this ugly and violent attack against our colleagues. The authors must be brought to the court," said RUJ president Vsevolod Bogdanov.

“Those who attacked our colleagues yesterday should be held accountable for their acts,” said IFJ President Jim Boumelha. “We call on the Russian government to take every necessary step to ensure journalists can report freely on the ground”.

“We cannot accept these violent attacks against journalists and human rights defenders. I call on Russian authorities to provide efficient protection to journalists reporting in Chechnya and Ingushetia,” said the EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregård.

For more information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 139 countries

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