Večernji List Journalist Reports Having Received Threats from Russian Diplomats

By 6 May 2022
Večernji List Journalist Reports Having Received Threats from Russian Diplomats
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ZAGREB, 6 May (2022) - Večernji List reporter Hassan Haidar Diab in early April received threats from Russian diplomats over his article about Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and has been under police protection since.

In an interview with Hina, Diab described the circumstances in which he received threats from two of a total of 18 Russian diplomats expelled from Croatia in late April, three weeks after his story about the role and mode of operation of Kadyrov and the Chechen death squads in the Ukraine war was published.

He says that after the publication of his text he was contacted by the Russian Embassy in Zagreb and was told ironically that he had written a "great article".

"The article I wrote in early April was extensive, it was an analysis with witness accounts about the way the Chechen fighters led by Ramzan Kadyrov operate and how they killed people in Ukraine. I wrote about who Kadyrov is and how many reporters and political opponents he and his death squads have killed," Diab says, adding that on the day the article was published, 4 April, he was contacted by Matvey Sidorov, media advisor at the Russian Embassy.

Diab says Sidorov told him that he had written a "great article" and that political secretary Sergey Trofimov wanted him to know that the article would be translated and sent to Kadyrov.

After that, the reporter called his editor in chief Dražen Klarić, as well as Minister of the Interior Davor Božinović, and was immediately given police protection.

Diab says that a week later he was received by Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, who told him that the competent services had been instructed to protect him and his family and assured him that they were safe.

Diab adds that Russian diplomats continued to send him messages even after their expulsion from Croatia, with the last message arriving on World Press Freedom Day, 3 May.

"Večernji List decided not to go public with the threats for the sake of my security. But after the Nacional weekly published it and after I confirmed the threats in an article published by Večernji List, I again received a message... from Sidorov," Diab says.

"Greetings Hassan, you wrote a great article again, but it's not exactly new, why did you not publish it while we were in Zagreb," read the message, which Diab says he did not want to answer, wondering what it meant and if he would have been attacked or killed had he published the article at the time the Russian diplomats were still in Zagreb.

He stressed that he had talked to security experts and had been told that he should be cautious and should not take the threats lightly.

In a message to reporters covering the war in Ukraine, Diab said: "It is our duty to report about the suffering of people in Ukraine. We must not give up, whatever the cost."

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