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Documents reveal that Meduza was designated as a ‘foreign agent’ based on a ‘denunciation’

The Russian Justice Ministry added Meduza to its “foreign agent media” list on the basis of a complaint from Alexander Ionov, a former member of Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission (the ONK, which monitors the observance of prisoners’ rights).

After receiving the documents that guided the Justice Ministry’s actions, Anastasia Burakova from the human rights group Pravozaschita Otkrytki wrote on Telegram that the decision to blacklist Meduza came after a “denunciation” from Ionov. “He wrote 20 pages to Roskomnadzor [the federal censorship agency],” she explained.

Ionov’s complaint is dated April 20, 2021. Meduza was declared a “foreign agent” three days later. The appeal claims that Meduza is “funded by grants from at least two foreign NGOs” and alleges that Meduza won a tender from the Latvian government. 

A copy of Alexander Ionov’s complaint against Meduza
Anastasia Burakova
Alexander Ionov
Anastasia Burakova

In a comment to MBX Media, Ionov said that he had filed complaints against Meduza with Roskomnadzor in the past. “There were two reasons. The first concerned me, about [my] international activities. They attributed all sorts of stories to me about Venezuela, about a ‘troll factory’ in Venezuela, which I had nothing to do with. [...] The second point was related to my human rights activities directly. As far as I remember, this concerned one of our colleagues who was in the Lefortovo [Prison]. The article wasn’t entirely correct — typical for Meduza,” he claimed.

In a separate comment to RBC, Ionov said he filed the complaint against Meduza “for an absolutely simple reason.” “Meduza actively received subsidies and grants from foreigners, but didn’t declare its dependence on foreign investments and didn’t submit any applications to register itself as a foreign agent with the Justice Ministry,” Ionov claimed.

On May 20, Moscow’s Zamoskvoretsky Court held a preparatory session regarding Meduza’s lawsuit challenging the Justice Ministry’s decision to designate the media outlet as a “foreign agent.” Meduza is being represented in court by Anastasia Burakova and lawyer Sergey Badamshin, who is also from Pravozaschita Otkrytki. 

The hearing on the claim is scheduled for June 4, Badamshin said.

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