Reporters Without Borders is dismayed to learn that Madina Duduyeva, the wife of journalist Abdulla Duduyev, was attacked on her way to her children’s kindergarten in Moscow on 4 October 2011. Her assailants hit her on the head and back of the neck, causing her to fall and lose consciousness. She spent two days in a hospital with concussion and is still suffering from an acute stress reaction. Neither she nor Duduyev wanted to talk about the attack.
Duduyev and fellow Chechen journalist Israpil Shovkhalov are the joint editors of Dosh, a Moscow-based independent quarterly that is an authoritative source of information about the Russian Caucasus.
“There is no doubt that the attack on Duduyeva was linked to her husband’s work as a journalist,” Reporters Without Borders said. “It was the latest and most serious of a series of attempts in recent months to intimidate close relatives of Duduyev and Shovkhalov. Those responsible failed to silence the two journalists by threatening them directly, so they are targeting their families. This cowardly and intolerable technique of intimidation is widely used in the Russian Caucasus.”
Shovkhalov told Reporters Without Borders that he and Duduyev have had the impression of being constantly watched in recent months and Duduyev kept finding microphones in his apartment last year. For years they have been getting threats in the form of anonymous phone calls or emails, or “warnings” passed to friends, but of late these threats have tended to target their families.
A swastika was drawn on the door of Duduyev’s home in Moscow in early April 2011. Four days, Duduyeva was accosted for the first time while on her way to the kindergarten. Three youths shouted insults at her and asked her “why are you having children with this black man?” She was very frightened and spent several few months in a distant town with the two children, hoping that things would calm down. This seemed to have been the case until the attack of 4 October.
While hospitalized in the Chechen capital of Grozny for a severe form of diabetes in the summer of 2010, Shavkhalov’s mother was told by a doctor that she would get better treatment if her son were to work “in the interests of his republic and not against it.” When finally transferred to Moscow, she was in such a poor shape as a result of inadequate treatment that she had to spend another four months in hospital. In early 2011, several individuals went to the home of Shovkhalov’s brother and advised him to “stop Israpil before it is too late.”
Asked who he thought was behind the threats and attacks, Shavkhalov told Reporters Without Borders there were several possibilities but he preferred not mention them publicly for fear of putting their families in even more danger.
“We are really worried about these two journalists and their families,” Reporters Without Borders added. “We urge the police to do everything in their power to identify those responsible for the attack on Dudeyeva and to end the threats to these journalists. The international community must not remain indifferent. It can help to protect journalists and their families by giving them multiple-entry visas, by quickly offering them safe refuge in cases of imminent danger, and by expressing their concern to the Russian authorities.”
Independent journalists and human rights activists are under permanent threat in Russia, especially in the North Caucasus. The staff of Dosh were awarded the Reporters Without Borders Prize in the Media category in 2009 for their courage and the professionalism. In Chechnya and Ingushetiya, Dosh is one of the very few media outlets to cover the constant human rights violations by the security forces, the enforced disappearances and the widespread corruption.
Duduyev and Shovkhalov were attacked and badly beaten in Moscow in January 2001 by unidentified assailants who objected to their criticism of then Chechen President Akhmad Kadyrov.