Week-ending 16 April 2021
The independent investigative journalist Roman Amin has been classified as a witness in a criminal case that is under investigation regarding a violation of Article 137, Part 2, of the Russian Criminal Code concerning violation of privacy. Under this article, the maximum penalty is four years in prison; fines are also possible up to 300,000 roubles or a two years’ salary of the convicted person. The offence concerns ‘Illegal collection or spreading of information about the private life of a person which constitutes his personal or family secrets, without his consent, or the distribution of this information in a public speech, in a publicly performed work, or in the mass media, if these deeds have been committed out of mercenary motives or any other personal interests, and have caused harm to the rights and legally-protected interests of individuals…’ Part 2 specifies that these actions have been ‘committed by a person through their official position.’ The Guardian reported that ‘the case is linked to Anin’s 2016 investigation into a close ally of Vladimir Putin, whose wife, he wrote, appeared to be using a super-yacht estimated to cost more than $100m (£73m). Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that published the article titled “The secret of Princess Olga”, was successfully sued in a Russian court by Rosneft head Igor Sechin, who said the article had harmed his reputation.’
‘Article 137. Invasion of Personal Privacy,’ The Criminal Code of the Russian Federation
‘УК РФ Статья 137. Нарушение неприкосновенности частной жизни,’ KonsultantPlus
‘Независимая журналистика — не преступление,’ Znak.ru, 10 April 2021
‘Заявление Компании,’ Пресс-релизы Роснефта, 12 April 2021
The Guardian, 10 April 2021: Russian police have briefly detained and interrogated Roman Anin, one of the country’s leading investigative journalists, in a criminal probe suspected to be motivated by revenge for his investigations into the Kremlin elite. Investigators on Friday searched Anin’s Moscow apartment and seized telephones and other electronic equipment and documents. Anin, the founder of iStories and one of the Russian reporters who worked on the Panama Papers investigations, was then taken to a police station for questioning. He refused to answer questions. invoking his right not to testify. He has been summoned for questioning again on Monday. The case is linked to Anin’s 2016 investigation into a close ally of Vladimir Putin, whose wife, he wrote, appeared to be using a super-yacht estimated to cost more than $100m (£73m). Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper that published the article titled “The secret of Princess Olga”, was successfully sued in a Russian court by Rosneft head Igor Sechin, who said the article had harmed his reputation.
CPJ, 12 April 2021: Russian authorities should return equipment confiscated from journalist Roman Anin, drop their investigation into his work, and allow him to do his job freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. On April 9, Federal Security Service (FSB) agents raided the Moscow apartment of Anin, chief editor and founder of the independent investigative news website iStories, and confiscated mobile phones, notebooks, and memory sticks from his home, according to news reports and Anin, who spoke with CPJ in a phone interview.
RFE/RL, 14 April 2021: Prominent investigative journalist Roman Anin believes that the newfound attention paid by Russian authorities to him and his media organization differs from the official line, and that recent raids on his home and office — and his subsequent interrogation — were in response to recent critical coverage of high-profile business and security figures. Speaking to RFE/RL’s Russian Service on April 13 a day after his visit to the Investigative Committee for questioning relating to a story he wrote five years ago, the editor in chief of Important Stories (Istories) gave his assessment of what he sees as part of the “sad process in Russia of pressure on independent journalism.”
RSF, 14 April 2021: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns police and judicial harassment of Roman Anin, a Russian journalist known for his investigative reporting on Kremlin allies, who has been questioned in connection with a 2016 story and could be facing several years in prison if prosecuted. This case against him has no basis and should be closed, RSF says.
RFE/RL: Yuras Zyankovich, a Belarusian lawyer who also has U.S. citizenship, has been detained in Moscow and transferred to a detention center in Minsk amid an ongoing crackdown on dissent in Belarus following a disputed presidential election last year. Zyankovich’s wife, Alena Dzenisavets, told RFE/RL on April 13 that Russian security officers “abducted” her husband from the Nordic Rooms Hotel in Moscow on April 11 and brought him to the Belarusian capital.