Roman Dobrokhotov, chief editor of The Insider walks while surrounded by police officers and journalists,in Moscow, Russia, on July 28, 2021. Dobrokhotov recently fled the country and authorities have harassed his family members in Moscow. (AP/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Russian authorities harass family of exiled journalist Roman Dobrokhotov

Vilnius, Lithuania, October 1, 2021 – Russian authorities should stop harassing journalist Roman Dobrokhotov and his family members, and allow members of the press to work freely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Yesterday, officers with the Federal Security Service (FSB) raided Dobrokhotov’s apartment, where his wife lives, and his parents’ apartment in Moscow, according to news reports. Authorities detained the journalist’s father and wife and interrogated them at a local police station, those reports said. The reports did not specify the nature of the questioning.

Russia’s Justice Ministry added the investigative website The Insider, which Dobrokhotov founded and edits, to its registry of so-called “foreign agents” on July 23, and on July 28 raided Dobrokhotov’s home and confiscated his equipment and passport, as CPJ documented at the time.

Dobrokhotov fled the country after the raid, and he is now living in an undisclosed location, according to news reports

He tweeted that authorities were targeting his family over his alleged illegal crossing of the Russian border, and said that his family’s phones and computers had been confiscated.

“Russian authorities must stop persecuting journalist Roman Dobrokhotov and harassing his family members,” said Gulnoza Said, CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, in New York. “Dobrokhotov has already faced significant official retaliation over his work, and authorities should not expand their targets to include his family.”

Authorities accuse Dobrokhotov of illegally crossing from Russia into Ukraine by “bypassing the established checkpoints,” when leaving the country in August, according to news reports and his lawyer, Yulia Kuznetsova, who spoke to The Insider.

If charged and convicted, he could face up to two years in prison, according to the Russian criminal code.

The Insider has collaborated with the Netherlands-based investigative outlet Bellingcat on several high-profile investigations, including the August 2020 poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.

When CPJ called the Ministry of Justice, an official on duty said the ministry had no comment on the case.