Chernovik (Russian: Черновик for "Rough Draft") is a weekly newspaper published by Svoboda Slova (translated as "Freedom of Speech") and based in the Republic of Dagestan, North Caucasus region, Russia. Reporters Without Borders has described it as "Dagestan's leading independent newspaper" and the newspaper with the third largest circulation in Dagestan.
From 2008 to 2011, following a series of articles critical of the Federal Security Service's counterinsurgency tactics, the newspaper's editor-in-chief, Nadira Isayeva, was involved in a high-profile prosecution for "inciting hatred toward law enforcement officials" and other charges. Chernovik reporters Magomed Magomedov, Artur Mamayev and Timur Mustafayev were also charged, along with their lawyer Biyakai Magomedov. International press freedom organizations ARTICLE 19, Reporters Without Borders, and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) all protested the charges, the latter awarding Isayeva a 2010 International Press Freedom Award for risking her "freedom and security" for her reporting. All five were later acquitted following a trial Isayeva described as "a test for the institution of press freedom" in Dagestan.
Murder of Gadzhimurat Kamalov
On 15 December 2011 Gadzhimurat Kamalov was assassinated as he left Chernovik's offices. CPJ described his death as "a lethal blow to press freedom" and "a massive loss for independent journalism in the North Caucasus, Russia's most dangerous place for reporters". Tanya Lokshina, deputy director of Human Rights Watch in Moscow, said: "Kamalov's death is terrible and it will have a monstrous effect on the free press in Dagestan. He had many enemies because of Chernovik's searching reports on corrupt businesses and the transgressions of the local siloviki [law enforcement bodies]." Lokshina blamed the murder on the Russian authorities' governing of the region: "Even if there was a personal aspect to his murder then it became possible because of the atmosphere of complete impunity which the Russian authorities have allowed to flourish there."
Yulia Latynina, an expert on the Caucasus region interviewed by the Associated Press, said, "Just as [Anna] Politkovskaya's death meant the loss of information about Chechnya, Kamalov's death will mean that to a large extent we will stop to understand what's going on in Dagestan. People will simply be scared to write anything."
- "Court acquits Dagestan’s leading independent newspaper". Reporters Without Borders. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Reporters Without Borders (2011). Media Enmeshed in Terror, Threats and Corruption (PDF). Reporters Without Borders. p. 5.
- Mollayev, Arsen (December 16, 2011). "Prominent Journalist Gunned Down In Russia’s South". Salon. Retrieved 17 December 2011.
- "Four ordinary journalists take extraordinary risks to do their jobs". The Washington Post. 22 November 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- "ARTICLE 19 is concerned about ongoing prosecution of independent newspaper staff in Dagestan". ARTICLE 19. 21 March 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- "CPJ to honor brave international journalists". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- "Dagestan court acquits Chernovik journalists". Committee to Protect Journalists. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
- Investigative journalist shot dead in Russian province, Telegraph, retrieved 16/12/2011
- Parfitt, Tom (December 16, 2011). "Newspaper chief's murder in Dagestan adds to toll of Russian journalists". Guardian (U.K.). Retrieved 16 December 2011.
- Associated Press (18 December 2011). "Prominent Journalist Gunned Down in Dagestan". Moscow Times. Retrieved 18 December 2011.