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Law enforcement officials raid Open Russia activist Zoya Svetova’s apartment
Moscow law enforcement officers came to journalist and human rights activist Zoya Svetova’s apartment at 11 am Tuesday morning with a search warrant, wrote her lawyer Anna Stavitskaya on Facebook, before rushing to the site. There were 12 officers in total.
Shortly thereafter, Svetova’s son Timofei Dzyadko said that the search was related to the Yukos affair of 2003 and to Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s nationwide community platform Open Russia, where the journalist works. Open Russia too said that the search was related to the Yukos case.
In an interview with news agency Interfax, a source familiar with the situation said that the search was part of a “regular routine procedure” and would not result in any convictions. “[This is] usual technical work. Much ado about nothing,” said the source, who, nevertheless, also said that the search was related to the Yukos case.
Having arrived at the scene, Svetova’s lawyer Stavitskaya said that investigators were browsing documents found at the apartment and downloading information from computers.
The search took place in the framework an investigation into the embezzlement of public funds by oil company Yukos, which then supposedly went to finance Russian pro-democracy movement Open Russia, where Svetova works. Open Russia was created by former Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
This is not the first time that investigators are raiding the homes of Open Russia employees. A series of raids taking place at the end of 2015 were executed as part of an investigation for the Yukos case of 2003. Investigators claimed that the raids were intended to check whether those individuals who would later have Russia investigated by international courts in the name of company representatives, held their own shares of Yukos legally.
Zoya Svetova has worked for a number of Russian and French publications. From 2009 to 2014, she was a columnist for The New Times.
As part of Moscow’s Public Oversight Commission, Svetova had been involved in monitoring the detention conditions of prisoners and detainees since the commission’s inception in 2008. Most notably, she was involved in the case of the Svetlana Davydova, a mother of multiple children who was accused of treason and had to spend two weeks in a Moscow detention center. In 2016, alongside several other human rights activists, Svetova was made unable to continue working in the Public Oversight Commission.
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