The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says Russian authorities' inaction in the face of hostility against media was, in part, to blame for an attack near Chechnya that left six journalists injured.
The CPJ's statement on March 10 came a day after attackers intercepted a small bus carrying activists and journalists, beat them, and set the vehicle afire.
The journalists were on a media trip arranged by a nongovernmental organization, the Committee for Prevention of Torture. They were traveling from neighboring Ingushetia, hoping to cross into Chechnya.
Group member Oleg Khabibrakhmanov said there had been two other attacks on their organization recently.
"The attack follows a burst of menacing comments on social media and in the press...by government officials in Chechnya," a CPJ statement said.
CPJ said the March 9 attack "was enabled by the government's inaction in the face of overt hostility to the press."
Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, and his supporters have publicly vilified the Committee to Prevent Torture's activists.
Kadyrov has been accused of running Chechnya as if it were his own fiefdom, often disregarding Russian law in his pursuit to keep order in the restive North Caucasus republic.
One of the journalists who was attacked, Norwegian Oystein Windstat, linked the violence to stories he wrote in December about two Chechens found dead in Chechnya after they returned from Norway where they were denied refugee status.