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PEN joins Russian writers to demand the protection of Novaya Gazeta journalists

Thursday 20 April 2017 - 1:00am

20 April 2017 - PEN International joins the Free Word Association in calling on Russian authorities to immediately investigate threats against Novaya Gazeta, the Russian newspaper that broke the story of the mass detention, torture and even killings of gay men in Chechnya. In response to the news report, some 15,000 men gathered in Grozny and passed a resolution that called the report ‘lies and libels’ and further stated:

“The centuries-old traditions of Chechen society, the dignity of Chechen men, and our faith have all been insulted, and we promise that those behind it will face reprisals, whoever they are and wherever they are.”

In an open letter to Russian authorities, we demand that they do everything in their power to ensure the safety of journalists who are doing nothing more than carrying out their work. PEN also calls on Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, to categorically and publically condemn the recent attacks against gay men and ensure that these human rights abuses are immediately investigated and that perpetrators are brought to justice. Silencing LGBT voices through violence is the ultimate form of censorship and must be stopped.
The full letter can be read below.

We, members of the Free Word Association– writers, journalists, cultural activists, and scientists – are extremely concerned about the threats aimed at our colleagues, the journalists of Novaya Gazeta, which published materials on mass detentions, tortures and extrajudicial reprisals of citizens in Chechnya.

We believe that the threateningly aggressive reaction to journalistic work, made public on April 3 at a many- thousand gathering in the Central Mosque of Grozny, is unacceptable in a civilized society and should be evaluated in view of Russian law.

The lack of proper response from law enforcement services and the country's leadership has entailed yet another threat, this time to journalists of the Echo of Moscow radio station who stood up for their colleagues at Novaya Gazeta.

We remember the outcomes of such threats only too well. The still unsolved murders of Anna Politkovskaya and Natalia Estemirova and the inability of the investigation and the court to carry out a full-fledged process on Boris Nemtsov’s assassination make us watch the development of the current situation with special concern.

We demand that law enforcement agencies and the Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation give due legal assessment to actions aimed at inciting hatred and enmity towards journalists fulfilling their professional duties and to put an end to the attempts that have been recently made to substitute the legal basis of the Russian Constitution with any remnants of customary law or religious dogma.

Svetlana Alexievich, writer
Alexander Arkhangelsky, writer
Nadezhda Azhgikhina, journalist
Elena Baevskaya, translator, teacher
Leonid Bakhnov, writer
Irina Balakhonova, Publisher
Nune Barseghyan, writer, psychologist
Dmitry Bavilsky, writer
Irina Bogatyreva, writer
Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya, writer
Marina Boroditskaya, poet, translator, writer
Alla Bossart, writer
Grigory Chkhartishvili (Boris Akunin), writer
Jennifer Clement, PEN International president
Natalia Demina, journalist
Vitaly Dixon, writer
Olga Drobot, translator
Victor Essipov, poet, literary critic
Elena Fanailova, poet, journalist
Sergey Gandlevsky, writer
Alisa Ganieva, writer
Alexander Gelman, playwright
Kristina Gorelik, journalist
Varvara Gornostayeva, publisher
Mark Greenberg, translator
Alexander Illichevsky, writer
Igor Irtenyev, writer
Natalia Ivanova, writer, critic
Gennady Kalashnikov, poet
Pavel Kataev, writer
Igor Kharichev, writer
Gennady Krasukhin, literary critic, writer
Irina Kravtsova, editor
Maya Kucherskaya, writer
Alexander Livergant, translator
Natalia Mavlevich, translator
Alexey Motorov, writer
Vladimir Moshchenko, writer
Anton Nechaev, writer
Leonid Nikitinsky, journalist
Sergey Parkhomenko, journalist
Grigory Pasko, journalist
Nikolay Podosokorsky, philologist, literary critic
Alexander Podrabinek, journalist
Alyosha Prokopyev, poet, translator
Maria Rybakova, writer
Olga Sedakova, writer
Tatiana Shcherbina, poet, essayist
Alla Shevelkina, journalist
Alexey Slapovsky, writer
Vladimir Sorokin, writer
Vladimir Sotnikov, writer
Tatyana Sotnikova (Anna Berseneva), writer
Irina Staf, philologist, translator
Lyubov Summ, translator
Zoya Svetova, journalist
Lev Timofeev, writer
Alexei Tsvetkov, writer, essayist
Lyudmila Ulitskaya, writer
Olga Varshaver, translator
Dmitry Vedenyapin, the poet
Marina Vishnevetskaya, writer, screenwriter
Vladimir Voinovich, writer
Sergey Yakovlev, writer
Alexander Yarin, translator
Evgeny Yermolin, critic, cultural historian
Georgy Yefremov, poet, translator