E.Milashina: There is a Completely Totalitarian Regime in Grozny
The Swiss newspaper “Le Monde Temps” has published a short interview with Russian daily newspaper “Novaya Gazeta’s” journalist Elina Milashina.
Le Monde Temps: You are mainly investigating Chechnya. What are the challenges faced by civil society on the spot?
Elena Milashina: We are now dealing with a completely totalitarian regime in Grozny. Under orders from the pro-Russian president Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Russian Chechen government controls the lives of citizens in every detail. Kidnappings, torture, murder … Since the assassination of my friend Natasha Estemirova in 2009 and other advocates and journalists, civil society has been completely destroyed. Today, it impossible to work there. No one dares to investigate for fear of being killed. The most important limitation that I set in my articles is always to preserve the safety of my sources.
Le Monde Temps: You were brutally assaulted in 2012 in Moscow. Do you fear for your life?
Elena Milashina: As long as you try to hatch the truth, no one is safe in this country. And I am aware of that. However, I have not changed much in my daily life, I always return home the same way, without a bodyguard or Rottweiler. The only way to protect activists or journalists like me, is if the government would investigate these attacks and punish the culprits. But usually, the enemies of journalists are all friends of Putin. In the case of the murder of Natasha, the investigators and I know very well who the real sponsors were. Evidence accusing Chechen terrorists have been tampered with, which I have proved in several articles. But while Kadyrov continues to be head of [the pro-Russian] Chechnya and Putin is to head of Russia, I doubt that the real culprits are worried.
Le Monde Temps: You often say that Chechnya is a preview of what Russia will have tomorrow.
Milashina Elena: What happens there happens next with us forever. Starting with the massive violations of human rights in Chechnya, this began with the war, and then spread throughout Russia. Torture is especially practiced on a large scale, which is now commonplace throughout Russia. It is practiced by our police and soldiers who returned from their mission in Chechnya.
*Text was translated by Waynakh Online and edited by Michael Capobianco