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Russia bans news outlet Bellingcat over ‘security’ threat

Russia on Friday banned the investigative news outlet Bellingcat and its main local partner from operating in the country.

A statement from the Russian justice ministry said that the Amsterdam-based outlet and its partner The Insider “posed a threat to […] the security of the Russian Federation.” This bans Bellingcat from operating in Russia and makes cooperating with them illegal for Russian organizations.

Christo Grozev, who leads Bellingcat’s work on Russia, said in a tweet on Friday that the decision will “incriminate any collaboration or even references to our work in Russia.”

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins questioned the decision, as the outlet has “no legal, financial or staff presence, so it’s unclear how Russia expects to enforce this.” The same is true for The Insider, which is legally headquartered in Latvia in order to be protected from Russian authorities.

Bellingcat was established as an independent network of investigators in 2014. It has been widely praised for a string of exclusives, including its investigation into the Alexei Navalny poisoning. The group is also playing a key role in documenting war crimes in Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion.

Bellingcat and The Insider were added to a list of NGOs considered “undesirable” in Russia, the Russian outlet TASS reported. The list now numbers 56 organizations.

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