Kidnapped Russian Journalist: No One Is Paying Attention | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Kidnapped Russian Journalist: No One Is Paying Attention

Play associated audio

Each week, Weekend Edition Sunday brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Fatima Tlisova is an investigative reporter from Russia's North Caucasus region. During the 11 years she worked as a reporter there, she says, she was repeatedly threatened and attacked.

According to Human Rights Watch, the region is one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the world. Journalists are threatened, kidnapped and killed in broad daylight. As a result, some of the content of this interview is disturbing.

"Whatever you investigate in the North Caucasus is going to [catch] the attention of the authorities because corruption is widespread," Tlisova tells NPR's Linda Wertheimer. "So, wherever you turn, you're going to be in the center of attention if you are trying to do your job properly as a journalist."

In 2005, Tlisova was kidnapped by what she believes are members of the FSB, Russia's intelligence agency. Since receiving asylum in the U.S. in 2007, she has twice testified before Congress on human rights and freedom of expression in Russia.

"I wasn't only kidnapped, I was ... tortured," Tsilova says. She says she was beaten, had cigarettes put out on her fingers and kept in what she calls a cage.

"There was no light, but I could smell the blood," she says. "The whole cage was made to terrify."

Tlisova says she was eventually released after about eight hours, and later learned that a well-known businessman that she had worked for in the past was involved in her release.

"I don't know how he learned [or] what he had done, but he saved my life at that time," she says.

Despite the kidnapping, Tlisova didn't leave immediately. In fact, she didn't want to leave, because she felt that leaving was a betrayal of all of the people who continue to suffer in the region.

"I thought, if I leave, it's going to send a signal," she says. "Self-censorship is so high already; people are so scared to do their job."

Tlisova eventually did leave, she says, for the safety of her family. Many still suffer from oppression in the North Caucasus, but besides a few "marginalized journalists," she says, no one is paying attention.

"The whole [of] Russia just doesn't care about it, and they care about people in Ukraine somehow," she says. "Russia's own citizens, bombed, killed, harassed, living in terror, and no Russian cares about it."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

WAMU 88.5

D.C. Nonprofit Commemorates 100th Anniversary Of 'Flanders Fields'

A local non-profit is marking the 100th anniversary of a famous war poem with an event and the launch of a new fund for veterans.

NPR

McDonald's CEO Promises 'Modern, Progressive Burger Company'

"The reality is, our recent performance has been poor," McDonald's President and CEO Steve Easterbrook said in a video released Monday.
WAMU 88.5

Virginia Privacy Advocates See Win On Drones, Loss On License Plate Readers

Police in Virginia will have to get a warrant before using a drone in a criminal case, a victory for privacy advocates, but a measure to limit data collection from license plate readers was shot down.

NPR

The Promise And Potential Pitfalls Of Apple's ResearchKit

Apple's new mobile software platform is designed to help collect data for medical research, but concerns have been raised about privacy and informed consent.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.