Russian Police Raid Journalists’ Homes After Expose on Top Cop
(Bloomberg) -- Police in Moscow raided the homes of top journalists from independent news site Proekt on Tuesday after it published an investigation alleging that relatives of Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev own multi-million-dollar residences.
Law enforcement officers arrived to search the homes of Proekt’s Editor-in-Chief Roman Badanin, his deputy Mikhail Rubin and the reporter who wrote the article, Maria Zholobova, the state-run Tass news service reported, citing unnamed security officials. The Interior Ministry didn’t immediately respond to requests to comment.
Proekt said that Kolokoltsev’s son, Alexander, owns a property near Moscow worth 1.2 billion rubles ($16.6 million). It also alleged that the son of Kolokoltsev’s sister-in-law is the registered owner of a house in an elite district outside the capital worth 200 million rubles that was acquired in 2012 after Kolokoltsev became interior minister.
Zholobova’s lawyer, Vasily Kushnir, told Bloomberg that officials from the Interior Ministry in St. Petersburg were pursuing a case linked to a libel complaint from a businessman about reporting she’d done four years earlier for a different publication. “It’s the first time I’ve ever seen anyone come with a search warrant in a libel case,” he said.
Russian authorities have been waging the most aggressive crackdown in years on opponents of President Vladimir Putin and independent media since the detention of opposition leader Alexey Navalny in January. The efforts to silence dissent have intensified in the run-up to national parliamentary elections in September, with the ruling party’s popularity at a long-time low.
Navalny was detained immediately after his return from Germany, where he recovered from a near-fatal nerve agent poisoning he and Western governments blamed on the Kremlin. Russian officials deny any involvement.
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