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Russian Reporter Flees Chechnya Citing Safety Concerns

Prize-winning journalist Elena Milashina has fled Chechnya amid fears for her safety, after writing that a teenage girl was being forced to marry a police commander much older than her.

Milashina had written that a local police head, Nazhud Guchigov, who was already married, had threatened reprisals against the girl's family if she was not handed over.

Milashina's employer, Novaya Gazeta, Russia's leading independent newspaper, said she fled after she received a warning from police as she was doing more research on the forced marriage story.

Chechnya's Moscow-backed strongman, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied that the police officer was putting pressure on the 17-year-old girl or her family and defended the marriage.

"The girl's parents gave their blessing to this marriage," he said on his Instagram account.

Although polygamy is banned under Russian law, as is the abduction of brides and underage marriage, Kadyrov has shown tolerance for all three practices.

Based on reporting by AP and BBC