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Russia bans investigative outlet Proekt as ‘undesirable,’ adds journalists to ‘foreign agent’ list

Source: Mediazona

The Russian authorities have banned the investigative outlet Proekt as an “undesirable organization” and blacklisted its journalists as “foreign agents.”

Citing the state news agency TASS, Mediazona reported on July 15 that the Russian Attorney General’s Office had declared Proekt’s publisher, the American-registered company Project Media, Inc. “undesirable.”

In turn, the Russian Justice Ministry added Proekt editor-in-chief Roman Badanin to its “foreign agent media” registry, along with four other Proekt journalists.

In addition, the Justice Ministry blacklisted Open Media editor-in-chief Yulia Yarosh as a “foreign agent,” along with her deputy Maxim Glinkin, and Radio Svoboda correspondent Elizaveta Mayetnaya.

Organizations recognized as “undesirable” are banned from conducting any activity in Russia. Russian citizens who cooperate with “undesirable” groups can face criminal charges.

Proekt’s investigative journalists have produced a number of major investigative reports, including one on Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s multiple wives and their wealth and another on the demolition of a summer camp near “Putin’s palace.” Proekt also recently published a deep-dive into decades of sexual harassment allegations against an ex-teacher at an elite Moscow boarding school.

In late June, Moscow police raided the homes of three Proekt journalists in connection with a libel case that was launched back in 2017 (even though the statute of limitations had expired in 2019). The raids took place on the same day that Proekt published an in-depth investigation into the personal history and family wealth of Russia’s top police official, Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

The Russian authorities added Meduza to the “foreign agent media” registry in April 2021. The business outlet VTimes was declared a “foreign agent” in May and announced that it was shutting down a few weeks later. As was the case with VTimes, Meduza lost nearly all of its advertising revenue due to its “foreign agent” status. Rather than shutting down, we turned to crowdfunding.

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