New York, February 2, 2000 —Andrei Babitsky, the Russian journalist who was reported missing while covering the Chechnya conflict, is being held by Russian military authorities in a Russian-controlled area of Chechnya. Babitsky, a veteran correspondant with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, has not been heard from since he called his wife Lyudmila Babitsky from Grozny on January 15. A spokesman for the government of the Russian Federation has acknowledged that Babitsky is in detention, but would neither confirm nor deny the report by the Russian news agency Interfax that Babitsky has been charged with “participating in an armed group.”
Babitsky’s detention followed his January 13 report that Russian bombing raids had inflicted heavy civilian casualties in Chechnya. It is not the first time that Babitsky’s reporting has made him the target of official harassment. On December 27, the Russian Information Center accused him of conspiring with Chechen rebels, and on January 8 the Federal Security Service raided his Moscow apartment and confiscated photographs that he had taken of corpses in the conflict.
See CPJ’s Protest Letter to the President of the Russian Federation