Investigate Threats against Editor-in-Chief

Civil Rights Defenders is seriously concerned with public threats made by a high-ranking government official in Chechnya against Grigoriy Shvedov, editor-in-chief of the independent news portal Caucasian Knot. We urge Russian authorities to ensure the journalist’s safety and immediately probe threats against him.

On 7 January, Magomed Daudov, speaker of the parliament of Chechnya, published on his personal Instagram account a post displaying a picture of a dog, called “Shved”, with the caption “How to untangle the Caucasian Knot”, local and international press reported. In his post, Daudov implied that Shvedov was lying while reporting on events in the region in exchange for foreign funding, and said that it was about time to call the veterinarian and have the dog’s “canine teeth of wisdom pulled” and “cut his tongue to the standard size”.

“Such a threat is direct pressure on Shvedov and his fellow journalists in Chechnya. In the realities of the Chechen republic, such actions by the head of the regional parliament must be treated with utmost seriousness,” said Joanna Kurosz, Eurasia Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders. “We urge Russian authorities to hold Daudov accountable for his post, and ensure protection to Shvedov and his colleagues”.

Caucasian Knot is an internationally recognized independent news portal covering the Caucasus region, including Daudov’s native Chechnya which is infamous for ongoing human rights abuses, including human rights defenders’ murders. The website regularly reports on politicized persecutions of Chechen residents by the regional authorities. In September 2016 Zhalaudi Geriev, a contributor for Caucasian Knot, was sentenced to three years in prison on fabricated charges of drug possession.

In the past years Chechen authorities unleashed a series of relentless public verbal attacks against their critics. In January 2016 the parliament speaker issued a statement in which he labelled independent media outlets, human rights defenders and opposition politicians “saboteurs” and “traitors”. In the most recent instance, in October 2016, according to several reports, Daudov personally beat the acting head of the Supreme Court who refused to resign.