Another day of raids Officials search multiple homes and offices tied to journalism and activism projects by Mikhail Khodorkovsky in renewed Yukos case
On the morning of July 9, law enforcement raided the homes of staff at MBK Media and Open Russia. Around 6 a.m., Moscow police showed up at the homes of MBK Media chief editor Sergey Prostakov, Open Russia coordinators Tatyana Usmanova and Olga Gorelik, and municipal deputy Yulia Galyamina. In Tomsk, meanwhile, officials searched the apartment of “Open Russia Human Rights” project coordinator Alexey Pryanishnikov. According to MBK Media, the authorities threatened to break down the front doors when individuals asked to delay any searches until the arrival of their lawyers. When the attorneys finally did come, the police reportedly kept them waiting outside for extended periods of time.
The searches are officially part of the ongoing Yukos investigation, but they could also be related to a planned protest against recently adopted constitutional amendments, according to Open Russia spokesman Konstantin Fomin. Open Russia chairwoman Anastasia Burakova has pointed out that many people working at the organization today were only children in 2003, “but this fact doesn’t bother the cops.”
When police raided municipal deputy Yulia Galyamina’s apartment, the only person at home was her son, who is a minor. “My son called me and said that some kind of people were breaking into the apartment. I couldn’t get in touch with him after that,” Galyamina, who at the time was vacationing outside the city, told Meduza. OVD-Info lawyer Mikhail Biryukov later came to the scene, but police prevented him from entering until Galyamina arrived with an ambulance crew to treat her asthmatic son.
Biryukov says the raid on Galyamina’s home was also carried out as part of the Yukos case: “They’re looking for documents and evidence that Yulia participated in the appropriation and use of funds stolen from ‘Apatit,’ and that all her activities are financed using stolen funds.”
Moscow police also arrested Open Russia executive director Andrey Pivovarov and coordinator Maria Kuznetsova. Outside Open Russia’s office on Petrovka Street, plainclothes officers arrested Pivovarov and Kuznetsova, according to Dmitry Zair-Bek, another coordinator at the organization. Lawyer Sergey Badamshin also confirmed Pivovarov’s arrest. Spokespeople for Open Russia say they expect a raid on their office, as well, warning that the police might try to plant “illegal or incriminating objects” on their premises.
Around noon, state investigators searched MBK Media’s newsroom. No staff members were present at the time of the raid. The outlet’s editor-in-chief, Veronika Kutsyllo, and “Open Russia Human Rights” project lawyer Sergey Badamshin later arrived and entered the office with several people not in uniform. MBK Media also broadcast the police raid live on YouTube.
After the police raided their homes, several journalists and opposition activists were escorted elsewhere for further searches. After the search of his home, MBK Media chief editor was loaded into a “Delimobil” taxi and brought to his newsroom to open the front door for another search. At one moment, the taxi’s driver — apparently a plainclothes police officer — used the car door to try to bat away a photographer from Kommersant. In a brief confrontation, the photographer answered “Just try that again!” and asked him to identify himself, at which point the driver said, “Go behind the corner without the camera.” After her home was raided, Olga Gorelik was brought to Open Russia’s office for another search. Meanwhile, after officials searched Tatyana Usmanova’s home, they brought her to her mother’s apartment for another search (after initially wanting to bring her in for interrogation by state investigators).
Translation by Kevin Rothrock