Members of the Kremlin's human rights council appealed to President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday to protect colleagues in Chechnya after Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov lambasted rights workers.
Kadyrov called rights workers "enemies of the state" in an interview this month, using a Soviet-era term for traitors, provoking outrage from activists.
"We are very worried about the fate of our colleagues," council members and other activists said in an open letter to Medvedev, posted on the web site Sovetpamfilova.ru. "This statement by the Chechen president is nothing else but a direct threat."
Medvedev's spokeswoman could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The letter was signed by the head of the council, Ella Pamfilova, and more than a dozen other campaigners, including veteran human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, who is not a member.