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Police detain a ‘Meduza’ freelancer reporting on the deadly boating accident in Karelia

Source: 7x7

Police have detained Daniil Alexandrov, a freelance journalist working in Russia's Karelia Republic on a story for Meduza about the death of 14 children in a boating accident on Syamozero Lake, accusing him of working “without a license.” Alexandrov was detained on June 30 on his way out of the Essoilsky village administration building, where he spoke to the head of the town.

Police reportedly approached Alexandrov and threatened to confiscate all his equipment, if he refused to sign an administrative-offense report. He signed the document.

“They hinted that it might be necessary to confiscate ‘evidence of my journalistic activities.’ There was no use denying it, especially since the head of the town had already told them that I'd introduced myself as a journalist, had named my publication, and that I'd recorded our conversation and photographed him,” Alexandrov told Meduza, saying that the police insisted that Meduza is a foreign media outlet and must be accredited through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Foreign Ministry's rules on accreditation only mention full staff members of foreign media outlets, saying nothing about freelance writers. A report issued in May 2016 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, titled “Accreditation of Foreign Journalists in the OSCE Region,” found that accreditation is optional for foreign journalists working as freelancers, if they don't require special “privileges” (such as a multi-entry visa). 

Alexandrov's court case is scheduled for July 6. He faces a maximum penalty of 1,000 rubles ($15).

Given that the journalist's movements were not public information, and his whereabouts were discussed only privately over the telephone and on social media, [Alexandrov] suspects that the “leak” must have come from there, because [Russia's] security services specially monitor “Meduza.”


On June 18, a group of children in a boat on Syamozero Lake were caught in a storm, and 14 children died, as a result. Federal investigators have launched multiple criminal cases for safety violations, arresting the summer camp's two administrators and placing a local official under house arrest.

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