“Open Media” demand an end to the pressure on their staff

March 22, 2021

Below we publish a translation of the Open Media (OM) editorial statement. The journalists demand to end pressure on their staff.

The Open Media team of journalists demand an end to the pressure exerted on our staff. Since late last year, the authors of the most high-profile publications, mainly anti-corruption investigations, have been harassed by unknown persons, their e-mails and various social media accounts have been hacked, and false statements have been published about their relatives.

On 15 March the OM correspondent Ilya Rozhdestvensky noticed that he was being followed.  His recent publications include ‘The Mothers of AP Head Vaino and Minister Manturov Have Become Beneficiaries of a Chain of Petrol Stations with a Multi-billion Turnover’ and ‘Prigozhin’s Apparent Double Turned out to Be a Convicted Document Forger from St.Petersburg. He Changed his Name at the Age of 58

Unknown persons came, for example, to Rozhdestvensky and his wife’s home and questioned neighbours about them. According to the journalist, this could have something to do with the private detective Yevgeny Gvozdev, who works with Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Federal News Agency RIA FAN. It has not yet been possible to get an explanation from Gvozdev.

The OM reporter Natalia Telegina has also faced specially commissioned ‘plants’ about her family.  Her recent high-profile publications include “How Prime Minister Mishustin’s Family Turned out to Be Linked to the Biggest VAT Theft in Russian History” and “ ‘Head and Tails’ – a Guide to ‘Putin’s Riviera’. How Palaces of Putin’s Retinue Have Sprung up around the ‘Presidential Palace’”. Another contributor with similar experiences left the editorial office so that his relatives could keep their business.

Ilya Rozhdestvensky, deputy editor-in-chief Maxim Glikin, correspondent Viktor Ovsyukov and other staff members have experienced hacking of their e-mail and social media accounts.

The Open Media contributors are professional journalists trying to maintain generally accepted media standards of data gathering and information verification; the people investigated in their publications always have the right to reply – an opportunity to comment on the information concerning themselves, and refute or correct it. We advocate a peaceful dialogue with people of all persuasions – within the limits of the law – and we insist on being treated in kind. If the harassment of our contributors continues, we shall report the matter to the law enforcement agencies.