The apartments of several Russian investigative journalists from the online publication ‘Proekt’ were raided on Tuesday morning, four years after a case was filed against them for slandering Ilya Traber, a wealthy businessman.
That’s according to lawyer Anna Bogatyreva, who said police entered the apartment of her client Roman Badanin, the outlet’s editor-in-chief, as well as the home of journalist Maria Zholobova. Authorities also came to the residence of the parents of Badanin’s deputy, Mikhail Rubin.
They have all been brought in for questioning, media reports claim.
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The searches center around a 2017 documentary about Traber, produced when Badanin and Zholobova worked for TV channel Dozhd. The report suggested that the businessman had links to the mafia. A few months later, in January 2018, it was revealed that the St. Petersburg Ministry of Internal Affairs had opened a criminal case against the two journalists for slander.
If charged and found guilty, they could spend up to two years behind bars. However, lawyer Pavel Chikov has claimed that the statute of limitations on the case expired in 2019.
It is still unclear why Rubin is involved in the case, as he has no links to the documentary.
Tuesday’s arrests came shortly after Proekt revealed that it would be releasing a report into Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev, accusing him of having hidden wealth.
Proekt has risen in status in recent months, having become well-known for its investigations regarding a woman whom it alleges is the secret daughter of President Vladimir Putin. It also published a report on the real-estate holdings of Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin.
Badanin himself is a former editor-in-chief of Russian Forbes, and later went on to lead the newsroom at the prestigious Moscow daily RBK. After leaving Dozhd in 2017, he moved to the US to study at Stanford University on a paid 10-month journalism fellowship. After returning in 2018, he founded Proekt.
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