On Thursday, April 5th, just after midnight, Elena Milashina, a prominent opposition journalist in Russia, was walking to her home in Moscow with a friend when she was assaulted by unidentified attackers. She was mercilessly beaten by the assailants, losing a tooth in the process. Her bag, holding her laptop, was also stolen from her. The attackers fled when three women walked by the scene of the crime. Although Milashina put up a fight to ward off the attack and to reclaim her laptop, the men got away and were never identified.
According to Human Rights Watch, the police were slow to respond to Milashina’s emergency call, taking almost 90 minutes to reach the scene of the crime. Milashina and her friend were exhausted from waiting outside for the police and returned to her flat half an hour after the beating. The police finally reached the scene of the crime at about 2:00 a.m. Witnesses to the crime called Milashina to have her return to the street and give a report to the police.
Milashina, who won the Alison Des Forges Award from Human Rights Watch in 2011, stated that the attackers kicked her in the head repeatedly, leaving her with multiple bruises, feeling weak and dazed. She claims that she felt too weak to go to the hospital in the middle of the night and woke the next morning to receive medical attention and to catalog the injuries she received.
Milashina herself believes that the attack was linked to the nature of her work. She writes for the controversial opposition publication Novaya Gazeta in Russia, which consistently calls government lapses to task.
Considering that her colleagues at Novaya Gazeta have been prime targets for planned violence in the past, Milashina’s high profile should be taken into consideration by investigative authorities. Other writers for Novaya Gazeta who have fallen victim to brutality are Anna Politkovskaya, who was brutally murdered in 2006, followed by Natalia Estemirova, another murder victim in 2009.
Milashina has been instrumental in uncovering the brutalities in the North Caucasus, taking over much of Anna Politkovskaya’s work in recent years. She also claims to have been been working on a drug trafficking scandal recently, which might stir up resistance.
According to The Moscow Times, the incident will be investigated as a robbery. Human Rights Watch remains adamant that this incident should be investigated with Elena Milashina’s high profile taken into consideration. They also argue that the slow response time of the police should be considered in the investigation.
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