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Lancet combat drone

Russian journalist reportedly kidnapped and beaten after reporting on combat drone manufacturer

Source: Meduza
Lancet combat drone
Lancet combat drone
Olena Bartienieva / Alamy / Vida Press

A Russian journalist in the city of Izhevsk was kidnapped and assaulted last weekend, according to the Telegram news channel where he works, Izhevsky Venik.

On the night of January 27, Alexander Skvortsov reportedly left his home to “get some exclusive information from a source.” He was then forced into a car, where “a hat was taped over his eyes, his mouth was sealed, and his hands were tied up,” the channel reported. After that, the attackers took him to what he believes was a basement.

There, one of the kidnappers explained in clear terms that he needed to stop “writing bullshit about respected people and [drone manufacturer] Zala Aero.” To make sure he got the message, they beat him — professionally, without leaving a trace. They threatened to harm his loved ones and our entire team.

After Skvortsov had been in the basement for an entire day, the kidnappers took him back to the spot where they had abducted him. He reported the incident to the police, but they refused to register his report due to a “lack of evidence.”

Other journalists at Izhevsky Venik have also reportedly received threatening calls and messages.

“We don’t have any resources or ways to stand up to Zala Aero. So for now, we’re suspending our work,” the outlet wrote.

Zala Aero is a subsidiary of Kalashnikov owned by Russian businessman Alexander Zakharov, the designer of the Lancet combat drone, which has been widely used by Russian forces in Ukraine. In December 2023, the British government imposed sanctions against Zakharov and his family. The independent outlet iStories has reported that Zakharov owns an apartment in London and that one of his sons lives abroad and works at the U.N. Institute for Disarmament Research.

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