The Regnum news agency reported on April 18 that on April 11, a cross was drawn in chalk on the gate of the home in Karachaevo-Cherkessia of the parents of journalist Fatima Tlisova, who worked for Regnum and the Associated Press before leaving Russia for the United States. According to Regnum, together with the cross, was a note declaring: “We cannot get to Fatima, but we can get to you.” Along with Tlisova’s parents, her brother and sister, sister-in-law and seven nieces and nephews (the oldest is 13) live in the house.
Four days later, on April 15, a car pulled up to the Tlisovas’ home, the news agency reported, after which a man called over Fatima Tlisova’s oldest nephew and told him that his father had gotten drunk and asked him to go pick up the boy. The boy, who knew all of his father’s friends but did not recognize the man behind the wheel, could also not recall a time when his father had drunk too much. He decided, however, that he had to obey his father’s order and go with the man. Yet as soon as he got into the car, his mother shouted to him and he got out, after which the car quickly drove off. The boy’s father (Tlisova’s brother), who returned home an hour later—completely sober—said he had not sent anyone to pick up his son.
“This is not the first case,” Regnum quoted Tlisova’s sister-in-law as saying. “Last year they tried to kidnap my younger son. When he was on his way to school, a car pulled up to him. A man behind the wheel demanded that the boy get in the car. My son ran away, but was very frightened—since that time he has refused to go to school on his own; we accompany him there and pick him up after lessons.” Tlisova’s sister-in-law added that an acquaintance had come by not long before and inquired about what Tlisova was doing in the United States. According to Tlisova’s sister-in-law, at the end of the conversation, the acquaintance said he was not simply curious but had been asked to find out details about Tlisova by a “person from the office”—he used the word “kontora,” the nickname for the Soviet KGB—and advised her that “it would be better for you to disown such a relative.”
The journalist and commentary Yulia Latynina wrote about the threats to Fatima Tlisova—and others—in a piece published by Yezhednevny Zhurnal (Ej.ru) on May 8. Latynina noted that Tlisova became “Enemy Number One” for her coverage of the October 13, 2005 uprising in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria.
“Fatima was constantly threatened, searches were carried out in the home of her parents, in newspapers appeared the denunciations that characteristically precede disappearances without a trace,” Latynina wrote. “Ultimately, Fatima was poisoned: by the time she reached Moscow it was impossible to establish the substance [that was used to poison her]. I spoke a while later with one high-ranking federal official who was then responsible for the North Caucasus. He intoned an entire ode to Tlisova’s professionalism and objectivity, and then said: ‘Yes, I know that she has difficulties with the FSB. I ordered them to leave her alone’. A month after that, Fatima was poisoned again (neither time to death; they apparently wanted simply to intimidate), and in the end she left Russia.”
“And then, after she left, this inscription appeared on the gates,” Latynina added, detailing the apparent attempts to kidnap Tlisova’s nephews.