Moscow police are investigating alleged death threats received by a journalist for Ekho Moskvy radio, one of Russia's few remaining prominent platforms for criticism of the Kremlin.
The radio station said on its website on March 26 that police opened an investigation into threats against journalist Karina Orlova.
Orlova said on her Facebook page that the threats followed her January 8 on-air discussion of Kremlin-loyal strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, president of Russia’s Chechnya region, and of the deadly Islamist militant attack on a French magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The February 27 murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov has sparked fears among Kremlin critics that they could be targeted in violent attacks, as well.
Several men from the North Caucasus region have been arrested as suspects in Nemtsov’s slaying, but one of the two who have been charged retracted a confession and a rights activist said he may have been tortured.
Orlova said in a March 25 Facebook page posting that Moscow police had dragged their feet in registering her complaint and opening a probe.
An unidentified Moscow police official was quoted by Russia’s state-owned news agency RIA Novosti as saying that an investigation was opened in “strict accordance with the law” and that Orlova had been offered 24-hour police protection, “including at work.”
Several journalists and contributors with Ekho Moskvy, which is often fiercely critical of Russian President Vladimir Putin, have claimed that they fear for their safety following the assassination-style slaying of Nemtsov near the Kremlin.
In early March, police also opened an investigation into alleged threats against another Ekho Moskvy journalist, Sergei Parkhomenko.
Meanwhile, Ekho Moskvy editor in chief Aleksei Venediktov and political commentator Yulia Latynina both left Russia this month citing concerns about a rumored “kill list” that reportedly includes the names of numerous individuals who openly criticize Russia's leadership.
The respected independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on March 10 that Nemtsov, Venediktov, and self-exiled former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky were among those included on this list.
Venediktov has since returned, while Latynina said in a March 21 telephone interview with Ekho Moskvy that she left the country after noticing she was being followed on the street the previous week.
In January, Venediktov said he complained to law-enforcement officials about a thinly veiled threat against him that Kadyrov posted on the Internet.