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Russian tabloid TV station reports on police raiding an independent newspaper's office — before it even happened

Before the authorities ever arrived, the Russian television network REN TV reported on Thursday about a police raid on the Moscow office of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, the paper’s spokesperson, Nadezhda Prusenkova, told the website Mediazona.

“The news segment about [the police] coming appeared on REN TV before they arrived. We actually learned from REN TV that the police would be coming, or what happened was some of our colleagues called our office and told us what REN TV was saying. We didn’t believe it, but then they showed up,” Prusenkova said.

REN TV’s website first reported on the raid at 12:55 p.m., Moscow time, saying that “two police vans and about two dozen officers reportedly entered [Novaya Gazeta’s] office building.” The raid was carried out as part of an investigation into labor violations regarding the hiring of freelance reporter Khudoberdi Nurmatov (pen name: Ali Feruz), who’s currently in a Russian detention center, awaiting deportation to Uzbekistan for violating Russia’s travel restrictions on foreign citizens.

Prusenkova told Mediazona and the news agency Interfax that far fewer than two dozen officers took part in the raid on Novaya Gazeta, stating that there were just five officials in the office, who said they were from the Interior Ministry’s Immigration Department.

In early October, a film crew from REN TV joined the Moscow police on a raid of the home of Timur Valeyev, the executive director of the opposition group Open Russia, which was founded by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The station’s cameramen entered Valeyev’s apartment with the police, shining an enormous camera in his face, as an officer kneeled on his back, interrogating him. One of REN-TV’s cameramen even helped interrogate another man detained in Valeyev’s home, questioning him as he lay face-down on the floor.