Human Rights Watch
(HRW) reported this week that Tanya Lokshina, senior Russia researcher, has received text messages posing direct and implicit threats to her life.
Lokshina disclosed that recently she has been followed around the city in addition to receiving threats. According to HRW, the messages contain references to confidential information about her life and family, suggesting that it was obtained through surveillance with the possible involvement of security services.
Kenneth Roth, HRW Executive Director, condemned the threats as attempts at intimidation that are "clearly designed to make people think twice about doing human rights work.” While insisting that the threats won't deter HRW's work in Russia, Roth also observed that, “The climate for human rights advocacy in Russia is as bad as we’ve seen in 20 years.”
In a report for the Daily Beast
, Anna Nemtsova provides menacing context for the threats against Lokshina, recounting the numerous human rights activists and independent journalists who have been murdered in the Russian Federation over the last several years in crimes that have not been solved: Anna Politkovskaya, Stanislav Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, Natalya Estimirova and Khadjimurat Kamalov. She writes, "the motivation for the murder seems always to be the same: to shut the journalist up, first by threatening to kill—and then, if that doesn’t stop the reporter, with a bullet."
According to Nemtsova, HRW said that it reported the threats against Lokshina to the Kremlin and law-enforcement agencies, but that the text messages continue.