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Moscow police investigating ‘chemical attack’ on Novaya Gazeta office

Moscow police are investigating complaints from Novaya Gazeta journalists about a “chemical attack” on their office, reports the Russian state news agency TASS, citing an unnamed source in law enforcement. This comes after the independent newspaper called on the Moscow government to take part in a joint investigation into the incident. 

On Monday, March 15, journalists at the Novaya Gazeta office complained about a pungent, chemical smell near the entrance of the building on Potapovsky Lane. Emergency services arrived on the scene, but subsequently reported that they didn’t find any increased concentrations of harmful substances in the air.

Later that evening, the Telegram channel Novosti Moskvy published a video from a surveillance camera near the Novaya Gazeta office. The video shows a person in a Yandex courier uniform walking a bicycle up to the building and then spraying gas from its back wheel.

“A video appeared online showing an unknown substance being sprayed at the Novaya Gazeta editorial office. A person wearing a courier’s uniform released it [the gas] either from a bicycle tire (or from a bag) and slowly drove away.”

In an editorial published after the incident, Novaya Gazeta described the perpetrator as a “potential terrorist” and speculated that the attack was aimed at spraying a “poison” outside of the building’s entrance, which employees would then track inside on the soles of their shoes. “This is a threat to Muscovites,” the newspaper wrote.

Elena Novikova, a spokeswoman for Yandex.Eda (Yandex.Eats), told Meduza that their monitoring system didn’t record any of their delivery people near the Novaya Gazeta editorial office. 

Though the TASS source assured that an inspection is being carried out, he also claimed that the smell was likely due to problems with the sewage system.

Before our eyes the intelligence services and IT specialists, with [their] tens of thousands of cameras on the streets of Moscow, are beginning to take a public exam. There’s only one question: are they able to identify a potential terrorist or not. 

Novaya Gazeta

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