Russian security agents have searched the home of one of the country's most prominent investigative journalists and brought him in for interrogation, in what his lawyer and editorial team said was related to coverage of one of country's most powerful men.
The raid by Federal Security Service (FSB) agents on April 9 targeting Istories editor-in-chief Roman Anin drew swift condemnation from international investigative-journalism organizations, which described it as the latest assault on media in the country.
After FSB agents searched his Moscow apartment on April 9, Anin was taken to the Investigative Committee in connection with inquiries into "violation of privacy by abusing his professional functions," his lawyer Anna Stavitskaya said. He was later released after refusing to testify and is expected to be interrogated further on April 12.
Istories said on its Telegram channel that its offices had been searched as well.
Anin's lawyer and his editorial team say the investigation is related to a previous case opened in 2016, after the investigative journalist published an explosive report in Novaya gazeta newspaper suggesting state-owned oil giant Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin had links to a yacht valued at $100 million.
The raids also come just weeks after Anin published an investigative piece suggesting the new deputy head of the FSB, Sergei Korolev, has ties to the leaders of several Russian organized criminal groups.
Anin had previously worked for Novaya gazeta, Russia's most prominent opposition newspaper. The publication was found guilty of defamation after Sechin filed a complaint about Anin's report.
In a statement, Novaya gazeta's editorial board said the case was reopened in March, this time against Istories.
"Everything that is happening now with Roman Anin is revenge," the editorial board said. "We will by all legal means and publicly protect our friend and colleague."
Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), said his organization was "closely monitoring the treatment of our cherished member, and partner in investigative reporting, Roman Anin."
"On the face of it, this appears to be a dark day for freedom of the media in Russia," Ryle said. "We stand fully behind Anin's fearless exposure of figures from the criminal and political underworld."
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) also expressed concern about Anin.
"Anin is one of the best journalists in the world and has led numerous groundbreaking investigations into organized crime and corruption in Russia," OCCRP publisher Drew Sullivan said.
"This is another step in the ongoing squeeze on the remaining independent media in Russia by the authorities," Sullivan said. "Roman is truly an independent voice whose work serves the people of Russia. We are watching the situation closely."
Established last year, Anin's Istories specializes in investigative reports. Among its recent articles are a report on FSB officers surveilling imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny and an exposé into the wealth of Kirill Shamalov, the former son-in-law of President Vladimir Putin.