Russian state investigators have demanded that Moscow’s Lefortovo District Court arrest Bellingcat journalist Christo Grozev in absentia in a case over the “illegal crossing of the Russian border,” according to a report by state-run news agency TASS.
The case was registered on April 21, with a hearing having taken place at 14:00 on the same day. Russian news outlet Vedomosti claimed that Grozev is now on an international wanted list, which means that he can now be arrested if he is extradited to or detained in Russia.
State-owned news agency RIA Novosti cited a law enforcement source as saying that Grozev was accused of facilitating the escape of Roman Dobrokhotov, the editor-in-chief of The Insider.
Speaking to The Insider, Dobrokhotov confirmed Grozev's case is indeed linked to the illegal border crossing case previously filed against himself. The Lefortovo District Court had arrested Dobrokhotov for two months in the case in absentia on August 4, 2022. On the night of August 1, 2021, Dobrokhotov arrived at the village of Koleschatovka in the Voronezh region near Ukraine and crossed the border into Ukrainian territory.
In late December 2022, reports confirmed that Russia’s Interior Ministry had put Grozev, a Bulgarian citizen, on a nationwide wanted list for “spreading fakes about the Russian army.”
Grozev was forced to leave Austria, where he had lived for almost 20 years, because of the threat from the Russian secret services. He claimed that there were now more Russian “agents, spies and henchmen” in Vienna than police officers. In the summer of 2022, the FSB accused Grozev of helping the Ukrainian intelligence services, which, according to the agency, was planning to hijack a Russian military plane. Grozev himself said that he was only “chronicling one of the stupidest counterintelligence operations of all time.”
The Insider and Bellingcat conduct joint investigations. On December 14, 2020, the publications, together with the Anti-Corruption Foundation (ACF), published an investigation naming the FSB officers who took part in poisoning Alexei Navalny with Novichok – a Soviet-designed chemical recognized by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) as a military-grade nerve agent.