Russia’s security service (FSB) detained Rudnikov, editor-in-chief and owner of the independent Novye Kolyosa, at his house on November 1, 2017, and brought him to the Kaliningrad-based weekly’s newsroom in handcuffs with his hand swollen, according to media reports and a staff member who spoke with CPJ two days after the arrest on condition of anonymity for safety concerns.
Nearly a dozen officers in heavy armor and facemasks raided the newsroom and conducted a search that lasted for over five hours, the staff member said. According to his colleague, Rudnikov was interrogated in a room separate from the rest of the staff. Rudnikov was then hospitalized with a concussion, a broken arm, and a broken rib, according to press reports and the same staff member.
According to the staff member, at around 2 a.m. on November 2, Rudnikov was taken in his underwear from his hospital bed to his home, where security forces conducted further searches. Law enforcement also searched his mother’s house.
Officers then placed Rudnikov in a Kaliningrad FSB detention center, according to the newspaper staff member.
On November 3, 2017, Rudnikov appeared at a local court to hear charges against him. According to news reports and the newspaper staff member, the authorities charged Rudnikov with accepting a bribe from Viktor Ledenyov, head of the Kaliningrad branch of Russia’s investigative committee.
The judge denied the defense’s request to place Rudnikov, who appeared with a cast on his right hand, under house arrest to receive medical treatment, and ruled that the suspect should remain in custody pending investigation, local media reported.
Rudnikov’s colleague told CPJ they believe the charges are in retaliation for Novye Kolyosa’s series of reports about a luxury villa in Kaliningrad allegedly belonging to Ledenyov.
A report from the Russian news agency Interfax stated that neither the FSB nor the Investigative Committee gave any comment on the case, including the alleged beating.
On November 30, 2017, Rudnikov was transferred to the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow, local media reported.
In late September 2018, he was returned to a pre-trial detention center in Kalinigrad for an upcoming trial, his lawyer told CPJ. The journalist was receiving medical treatment following a beating in jail a few months earlier, but was “feeling ready to defend himself in court,” his lawyer said.