Honorary Doctor VUB and ULB again threatened by Chechen government

Honorary Doctor VUB and ULB again threatened by Chechen government

VUB and ULB reaffirm their support for the Russian journalist Elena Milashina.

On Monday 13 April, Milashina and Novaya Gazeta, the independent newspaper for which she works, were violently criticised and explicitly threatened by the head of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, in a video and on his twitter-account. He accused the journalist of being a foreign agent under the pretext of its commitment to freedom of expression and of inventing “false myths” about Chechnya. He also said that if the Russian security services did nothing to prevent the newspaper from publishing such reports, he could not rule out violent actions being takenby the Chechen authorities.

These threats follow the publication in the biweekly Novaya Gazeta of a report by Milashina on the management of the coronavirus crisis by the Chechen authorities. In it, she investigated the repression of people infected with the virus in Chechnya, to the point where they no longer dare seek treatment, and the mass arrests of people who have violated the containment rules. Kadyrov’s threats led to the removal of the report from the newspaper’s website.

Milashina expressed her fear following the publication of these threats. Novaya Gazeta has a sad record, with six of its staff members having been murdered, including two journalists who reported on human rights violations in Chechnya.

Milashina was awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by ULB and VUB on 3 May 2019, as part of Difference Day. Granting her this title makes her a full member of our community. The two universities showed their support for her last February after she was attacked in Chechnya, which has still not been seriously investigated.

The ULB and VUB reaffirm their unwavering support for Elena Milashina and freedom of expression. It is almost cynical that these threats almost coincide with the presentation of the DH doctor Honoris causa on 3 May 2020. This year, on Sunday 3 May, Difference day will continue, albeit in a live stream. You can find it at: www.differenceday.com.

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Sicco Wittermans
Sicco Wittermans Woordvoerder en persrelaties Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Sicco Wittermans
Sicco Wittermans Woordvoerder en persrelaties Vrije Universiteit Brussel
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