October 19, 2021

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Russian editor who investigated Navalny poisoning says he is a wanted man

The editor-in-chief of Russian news outlet The Insider, Roman Dobrokhotov, who investigated the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, said in an interview published on Thursday that he is wanted by Russian authorities after leaving the country.

Speaking to Reuters, Dobrokhotov said authorities have accused him of illegally crossing the Russian border into Ukraine. Dobrokhotov did not say where he is currently located or how he left the country. According to his lawyer Yulia Kuznetsova, Dobrokhotov was declared a wanted man on Sept. 23.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the successor to the Soviet KGB, told Reuters that Dobrokhotov crossed into Ukraine on July 31 with the help of other individuals. The agency said it will seek his arrest and prosecution.

Authorities confiscated Dobrokhotov’s passport when searching his home in July. During the search, his cell phones, laptops and tablets were also taken. Afterwards, he was taken in for questioning.

Dobrokhotov told Reuters that authorities on Thursday morning searched two apartments belonging to his family and parents, seizing electronics and taking his wife and father in for questioning.

Reuters noted that journalists and media outlets critical of the Russian government experienced a rise in pressure ahead of a parliamentary election this month, with Dobrokhotov’s outlet being among those targeted.

The Insider, which has partnered with investigative journalism outlet Bellingcat, drew the ire of Russian officials when it helped to name security officials that it says were responsible for the poisoning of Navalny, which nearly killed him.

The media outlet was declared a “foreign agent” earlier this year, resulting in reduced advertising revenue and labelling requirements. On Wednesday, two human rights groups and another media outlet were also labelled as “foreign agents” in an ongoing crackdown on dissent.

Moscow’s Justice Ministry designated human rights groups OVD-Info and Zona Prava and media outlet Mediazona as “foreign agents,” along with 22 individuals.

Mediazona criticized the designation, that that “because of the ‘foreign agents’ label characters and sources are reluctant to talk to journalists, officials use it as an excuse not to answer our questions, other outlets prefer not to cite Mediazona (they must mention that we’re a ‘foreign agent’), and readers suffer because of the pointless disclaimer in caps.”

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