Exiled Russian editor wanted by Russian authorities for investigation into Navalny poisoning

By: Jackson Sharman

The editor of a Russian news outlet says the Kremlin has declared him a wanted man. 

Russian officials claim that Roman Dobrokhotov – the editor-in-chief of The Insider, an independent online newspaper specializing in investigative journalism – fled Russia by illegally crossing into Ukraine on July 31st. The week prior, the Russian Ministry of Justice added The Insider to its list of “foreign agents.” Dobrokhotov was leading an investigation into the poisoning of dissident politician Alexei Navalny. 

In February, a Russian court sentenced Navalny to 3 ½ years in prison for violating his probation, which stemmed from a 2014 conviction of fraud and embezzlement that Navalny has rejected as politically motivated. Navalny spent five months in Germany recovering from a nerve agent attack in August 2020, and Russian authorities declared that his leaving the country was a violation of probation. 

In their investigation into the poisoning, The Insider helped identify Russian state security officials allegedly involved in the attack on Navalny. 

On September 30th, Dobrokhotov tweeted that Federal Security Service (FSB) agents had searched his parents’ home. The Insider said in a statement that the agents confiscated electronic devices and detained Dobrokhotov’s parents and wife for questioning. 

The FSB said in a statement that they will continue to seek Dobrokhotov’s arrest and prosecution. The Russian government’s pursuit of Dobrokhotov continues a campaign of suppression of independent media in Russia. In a political environment where free speech rarely thrives, the Kremlin has ramped up its crackdown on dissent in response to mass protests following Navalny’s poisoning. On April 21st, Russian authorities detained at least 10 journalists covering anti-Navalny protests. On September 8th, police detained 3 journalists protesting the foreign agent law outside of the Justice Ministry. There are currently 88 individuals and entities on Russia’s register of “foreign agents.”

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