Russia has put investigative journalist Krysto Grochev on its “wanted” list, according to the Russian Interior Ministry.
Grosev, a Bulgarian, is a leading Russia analyst at the Bellingate newspaper group.
Information posted on the ministry’s website said he was wanted “under an article of the Criminal Code”, without specifying the exact article.
According to the independent human rights watchdog OVD-Info, a criminal case has been opened against Grozev for spreading “fake news” about the Russian military.
The Russian government adopted a law in early March criminalizing the spread of “deliberately false” information about the Russian armed forces, just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. The maximum penalty under the Act is 15 years imprisonment.
Grozev has reported extensively on Russia’s involvement in several high-profile international crimes, including the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine and the 2018 poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in the United Kingdom. Moscow has repeatedly denied responsibility for either attack.
Along with Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and journalists from CNN and other outlets, Grosev investigated Navalny’s poisoning in 2020.
According to Bellingate’s website, he focuses on “security threats, foreign intelligence operations and weaponization of information.”
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began in February, Grochev has been using open-source digital tools to document war crimes and other atrocities committed during the conflict.
Grozev said on Monday that he did not know why he was added to Russia’s wanted list.
“I don’t know on what basis the Kremlin put me on its ‘wanted list,’ so I can’t comment at this time. In a way it doesn’t matter – they’ve made it clear over the years that they fear our work and won’t do anything about it,” he said. He said in a Twitter post on Monday.
Putin’s regime has been systematically cracking down on the independent press for years, but the crackdown on independent publications and journalists intensified in late February.
All remaining independent Russian media outlets have been shut down, and online access to those operating from abroad is blocked. Western publications and social media sites are also banned.
According to OVD-Info, at least 370 people face criminal charges for anti-war statements and speeches. Dozens of them have fled Russia and have been put on a wanted list, the Monitor reported.