Tanya Lokshina announced today that she has received threatening text messages. (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)
Tanya Lokshina announced today that she has received threatening text messages. (AFP/Natalia Kolesnikova)

Russia must investigate threats against leading researcher

New York, October 4, 2012–The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns threats against Tanya Lokshina, a leading Russian researcher and writer known for her work documenting human rights abuses in the North Caucasus. CPJ calls for an urgent, thorough, and effective investigation that tracks down all responsible.

Lokshina received multiple anonymous text messages on her mobile phone from September 28 to 30 that threatened harm to her and her unborn child, according to Human Rights Watch, for which Lokshina works as a senior Russia researcher. The messages detailed Lokshina’s movements and included personal details that could have been obtained only through close surveillance, HRW’s statement said.

“Tanya Lokshina’s courageous work in documenting human rights abuses has been instrumental in shaping the world’s understanding of the volatile southern republics,” said Nina Ognianova, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator. “We call on Russian authorities to ensure Lokshina’s safety and bring the perpetrators to justice. These threats must be taken with the utmost seriousness.”

Lokshina is one of a handful of journalists and researchers that make regular trips to the North Caucasus, the country’s most dangerous assignment, to document human rights violations from the frontlines. This vital firsthand documentation for human rights organizations has served as primary reporting for journalists around the world. Lokshina has contributed to several groundbreaking Human Rights Watch reports, including one that uncovered the forcible wearing of headscarves in Chechnya under strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. She also contributes to the independent human rights news website Open Democracy.

Lokshina worked closely with journalist and human rights defender Natalya Estemirova, who was murdered in 2009, and later became an outspoken critic of Russian authorities’ failure to solve Estemirova’s killing.

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