Freedom House Calls for Investigation into Threats Against Russian Human Rights Defender
Freedom House is deeply disturbed by recent threats made against human rights defender Tanya Lokshina and her unborn child and calls for Russian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into the threats and make every effort to ensure her safety. Ms. Lokshina is a researcher for Human Rights Watch who documents human rights violations in the North Caucasus.
According to Human Rights Watch, Lokshina received anonymous text messages which contained details about her personal life and activities that could only be uncovered through close monitoring of her movements and intercepting her private communications. She received between two and five text messages per day from September 28 to 30, each containing various including vague threats about an “uneasy birth.”
Since returning to the presidency, Vladimir Putin has overseen a crackdown against civil society organizations, human rights advocates, and the political opposition. Among the most worrying developments are the Russian authorities’ efforts to prevent advocacy organizations from receiving support from abroad, new restrictions on public demonstrations, and the recriminalization of libel. Ms. Lokshina’s reporting on Russia’s North Caucasus have brought to light numerous human rights abuses which regularly and systematically occur in the North Caucasus. Because of her work, it is likely that these threats are an attempt to silence her and discourage further work.