New York, January 9, 2017–Russian federal authorities should ensure the safety of Grigory Shvedov, the editor of the independent news website Kavkazsky Uzel (Caucasian Knot), and should hold accountable Magomed Daudov, the speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, for publicly threatening the journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Daudov on January 4 posted a photograph of a dog with its tongue tied in a knot to the social media website Instagram, using crude language to compare Shvedov to a dog in need of discipline. “It is past time to call a veterinarian,” the post said, “to pull out [Shvedov’s] wisdom teeth and to cut his tongue to standard size. Then, behold, he might even tell us something good and informative.”
“We call on Russia’s central authorities to condemn Magomed Daudov’s threats against Grigory Shvedov, to ensure the editor’s safety, and to make clear that threatening journalists is not acceptable,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “Covering Chechnya has long been the most dangerous assignment for journalists in Russia, and these threats from a powerful official must be taken seriously.”
Shvedov today filed a claim against Daudov with Russia’s Investigative Committee, the federal agency tasked with probing serious crimes, according to Russian press reports. “This is a threat to all journalists who find it necessary to report the situation in the Chechen Republic in a professional manner,” Shvedov told the Russian newspaper RBK today.
Kavkazsky Uzel is one of a handful of publications in Russia that independently covers the North Caucasus region, including Chechnya. The news website carries original reporting on politics and human rights abuses from a network of local correspondents, the majority of whom work under pseudonyms for fear of reprisal. One contributor, Zhalaudi Geriyev, is currently serving a three-year prison term on drug charges that CPJ believes were fabricated in retaliation for his reporting.