According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, Russia has put investigative journalist Hristo Grozev on the wanted list.
Bulgarian Grozev is the chief Russian investigator of the Bellingcat journalism group.
The information published on the Ministry’s website states that he is “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code”, but does not specify the exact article.
According to the independent human rights organization OVD-Info, a criminal case was initiated against Grozev for spreading “fake news” about the Russian army.
In early March, the Russian government passed a law criminalizing what it called “deliberately false” information about the Russian armed forces, just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The maximum penalty under the law is 15 years in prison.
Grozev provided detailed information about Russia’s involvement in a number of high-profile international crimes, such as the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine in 2014 and the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripals in Great Britain in 2018. Moscow has denied responsibility for the two attacks.
Along with Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s team and journalists from CNN and other news sources, Grozev also investigated Navalny’s 2020 poisoning.
It focuses on “security threats, extraterritorial covert operations and information weaponization,” according to the Bellingcat website.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Grozev has been using open-source digital tools to document war crimes and other atrocities committed during the conflict.
Grozev said Monday that he did not know why he was added to Russia’s wanted list.
“I don’t know on what basis the Kremlin put me on the “wanted list”, so I can’t make any comments yet. In a sense – they have made it clear for years that they fear our jobs and will stop at nothing to destroy them,” he said on Twitter on Monday.
Putin’s regime has been methodically suppressing the free press for several years, but in late February the crackdown on independent publications and journalists intensified.
All other independent Russian media were closed, and foreign workers were blocked from accessing the Internet. Western publications and social networks were also banned.
According to OVD-Info, at least 370 people have been prosecuted for their anti-war statements and speeches. Dozens of them fled Russia and were wanted, the monitor said.