World Association of News Publishers

Joint Protest campaign - Russia, 11 April 2012

Joint Protest campaign - Russia, 11 April 2012

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His Excellency, Vladimir V. Putin,
Prime Minister and President-elect of the Russian Federation
Moscow, Russia

11th April 2012


Dear Mr. Prime Minister,


We are writing on behalf of the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), the World Editors Forum, ARTICLE 19 and the Institute of the Americas, to express our grave concern regarding the brutal attack on investigative journalist Elena Milashina and Ella Asoyan, program officer of U.S.-based human rights organisation Freedom House.

Shortly after midnight on 5 April, Elena Milashina and Ella Asoyan were attacked by two men while walking in the street in the Moscow suburban neighbourhood of Balashikha. The assailants stole Milashina’s wallet and Asoyan’s laptop computer, but one of the attackers also severely beat Milashina, repeatedly hitting her head causing a series of external haematomas, a concussion, and breaking one of her teeth.

Instead of stealing their belongings and running away, one of the assailants kept beating Elena while the other made sure Asoyan could not assist her. The way the attack was perpetrated, using brutal force specifically against Elena Milashina, makes us believe the attack was not a simple robbery but a retaliatory act against Milashina’s recent investigative work at independent weekly Novaya Gazeta, her employer. Independent journalists and human rights activists are often the victims of brutal attacks in your country and rarely are perpetrators brought to justice.

On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaïa, an investigative journalist at Novoya Gazeta, was murdered in Moscow. On 15 July 2009, prominent human rights activist Natalya Estemirova was abducted and killed in Grozny, Chechnya. At the time of their murders, both were working on sensitive cases of human rights violations in Chechnya. On 13 November 2008, journalist Mikhail Beketov was savagely beaten, losing his right leg and four fingers. On 6 November 2010, journalist Oleg Kashin was assaulted by unknown men for his coverage of anti-government protests and extremist rallies. The severe beating left him in a coma.

We find it outrageous that the perpetrators and masterminds of these murders and attacks remain at large. It is attacks such as these, and the successive impunity from which the perpetrators benefit, which makes Russia one of the most dangerous places for media professionals and undermine Russian democracy.

Only six days before this attack, Elena Milashina had participated in a Media in Danger workshop organised from 26-29 March by our three organisations in San Diego, California, which aimed at identifying similar threats faced by journalists around the world and finding measures to counter them. Media representatives from 14 countries worldwide were present at the workshop and all have since expressed their support to Elena. They have also covered the attack in their respective media outlets.

Freedom of the press is enshrined in article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We respectfully remind you that it is the duty of the state to ensure that journalists can carry out their work without risk of violence and we ask you to ensure that an immediate and thorough investigation is conducted and that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

We look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience,


Yours sincerely,


Jacob Mathew
World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers


Erik Bjerager
World Editors Forum


Agnès Callamard
Executive Director


Charles S. Shapiro
Institute of the Americas


WAN-IFRA, based in Paris, France, and Darmstadt, Germany, with subsidiaries in Singapore, India, Spain, France and Sweden, is the global organization for the world’s newspapers and news publishers, with formal representative status at the United Nations, UNESCO and the Council of Europe. WAN-IFRA and the World Editors Forum group 18,000 publications, 15,000 online sites and over 3,000 companies in more than 120 countries.

Established in 1987, ARTICLE 19 fights for all hostages of censorship, defends dissenting voices, and campaigns against laws and practices that silence. With offices in London, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Mexico and Senegal, and in collaboration with 90 partners across the world, ARTICLE 19 strengthens national capacities, and builds or reforms institutions and policies to protect transparency and the free flow of information.

The Institute of the Americas is a public policy center established 29 years ago on the University of California, San Diego campus. In its role as an impartial and independent non-profit organization, the Institute convenes forums and professional workshops to promote effective public policies, economic development and social justice. Among the Institute’s most enduring programs is journalist training and protection, which promotes freedom of expression as a basic human right of the people of the Western Hemisphere.


William Granger's picture

William Granger


2012-04-11 18:15

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In countless countries, journalists, editors and publishers are physically attacked, imprisoned, censored, suspended or harassed for their work. WAN-IFRA is committed to defending freedom of expression by promoting a free and independent press around the world. Read more ...