- Title: Investigative media outlet fleeing Russia to escape crackdown, editor says
- Date: 29th July 2021
- Summary: INTERNET (JULY 29, 2021) (REUTERS) (MUTE) 'PROEKT' FACEBOOK PAGE, HIGHLIGHTED TEXT READING (Russian): "We, the 'Proekt' team, have the following to report. Project Media, Inc. which was registered in the United States of America and recognized by the Russian authorities as an "undesirable organization", is in the process of liquidation and no longer has financial relations with any of the journalists working in Russia. However, as journalists, we continue to believe that our work is important and necessary for our homeland. We will inform you separately about the form in which our journalistic team will continue their work. For now, we can say the main thing: there will be no fewer investigations. And once again, thank you all for your support. Journalism is not a crime! RUSSIAN VERSION OF PROEKT WEBSITE BEING SCROLLED DOWN ENGLISH VERSION OF PROEKT WEBSITE, IMAGE OF RUSSIAN PRESIDENT VLADIMIR PUTIN, TEXT READING (English): "The president's twilight years. How Vladimir Putin is here to stay forevermore."
- Embargoed: 12th August 2021 18:52
- Keywords: Kremlin Putin Russian media investigative journalism
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / MOSCOW, RUSSIA / INTERNET
- City: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES / MOSCOW, RUSSIA / INTERNET
- Country: USA
- Topics: Government/Politics,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA001ENW9B2F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Roman Badanin, chief editor of investigative news outlet Proekt, has left Russia with no plans to return and is evacuating his staff to avoid possible prosecution after Proekt was outlawed in a media crackdown, he told Reuters.
Proekt has published a series of deeply researched and unflattering investigations into Russia's ruling elite. Russian authorities declared it an "undesirable" organization on national security grounds on July 15, effectively banning it.
The move was part of a widening crackdown ahead of September's parliamentary election that has targeted media regarded by authorities as hostile and foreign-backed.
Badanin, in an interview in New York, said he had no plans to return to Russia soon since he could face criminal prosecution. Under a 2015 law, members of "undesirable" groups can be fined or jailed for up to six years for ignoring the ban.
The Kremlin denies media are targeted for political reasons and says any action taken against outlets or their staff result from specific circumstances and are motivated by the need to uphold the law.
Badanin said he did not know where he would settle and that he was only in New York temporarily. He was on holiday with his wife and children abroad when Proekt was labeled "undesirable" and he decided on the spot not to return to Russia.
He said staff at Proekt were also exposed due to a criminal investigation into alleged slander against the outlet as well as a push by authorities to label some journalists, including several that work at Proekt, as "foreign agents."
The term carries negative, Soviet-era connotations and subjects those designated to extra government scrutiny and labeling requirements. Police last month raided the homes of Badanin, his deputy Mikhail Rubin and one of Proekt's reporters in the slander case. Rubin was briefly detained.
"We are trying to evacuate staff...to one of the nearby countries," Badanin said.
Rubin is also in New York and has no plans to return to Moscow, Badanin said. Both have been labeled "foreign agents."
Badanin said Proekt would continue to function in some form, although details of how that would work in practice remain unclear. "The main difference is that a large part of the team will be out of Russia in order to avoid the possibility of any legal and extra-legal action against them," he said.
Several other non-state outlets have complained of mounting government pressure though none have been labeled "undesirable."
(Production: Yuri Bakhnov, Tatiana Gomozova, Maria Tsvetskova)
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