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‘No danger’ for Novaya Gazeta journalists — Chechnya’s head

April 22, 21:54 UTC+3 GROZNY

Novaya Gazeta published an article which referred to some alleged abductions and possible killings of Chechen residents over their non-traditional sexual orientations or on suspicion of being gay

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© Mikhail Metsel/TASS

GROZNY, April 22. /TASS/. Journalists of the Novaya Gazeta daily, who published an article about alleged killings of Chechen residents over their non-traditional sexual orientations or on suspicion of being gay, are not in danger, Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov told reporters on Saturday.

"There’s no danger for them," Kadyrov told reporters at the Shashlyk-Mashlyk (Barbeque) international festival of tourism and outdoor activities underway in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

Kadyrov commented on the Chechen clerics’ resolution adopted in the wake of the Novaya Gazeta publication.

"We do not understand this, our people do not understand this, so we have adopted the resolution to calm down the people," he said. "We have a different set of mind, different views. Those people, who are trying to present us in this aspect (though there is neither a single case nor a statement), are just advertising themselves."

History of the issue

On April 1, Novaya Gazeta published an article on its website entitled "Honor Killing" which referred to some alleged abductions and possible killings of Chechen residents over their non-traditional sexual orientations or on suspicion of being gay. The paper cited anonymous sources in law enforcement agencies and also victims, without revealing their names.

The Civil Society and Human Rights Council under Chechnya’s leader said it had scrutinized the article and found no confirmations at all, even indirect ones, that the alleged incidents actually took place. A corresponding statement by the regional council was published on the website of the Russian Presidential Council for Civil Society and Human Rights on April 4.

Last week, Novaya Gazeta said on its website that the editors had been threatened. Some of these threats, it said, were contained in a resolution adopted at a meeting between Chechnya’s clergy and public figures at Grozny’s central mosque on April 3. The resolution was devoted to Novaya Gazeta’s article about the alleged persecution of Chechnya’s residents for their non-traditional sexual orientation. One of the resolution’s items, the daily said, contained "open and outright calls for violence." The same item called for "retribution against instigators."

Religious Affairs Adviser to Chechnya’s leader, Adam Shakhidov, said the journalists had misinterpreted the Chechen clergy’s resolution regarding retribution against Novaya Gazeta. He told TASS that the daily would be sued in court for slander shortly.

On April 14, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin kept in focus Novaya Gazeta’s fears following the publication of the article Honor Killing. He said the presidential staff had received a special message from the daily’s editors on that score.

On April 19, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said at the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin that media publications on the alleged detentions and killings of civilians in Chechnya were a provocation. A day later, Russia’s human rights commissioner Tatyana Moskalkova voiced a similar position.

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