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Friend of journalist Zhanna Nemtsova suspected of spying on her on behalf of Russian military intelligence

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A Spanish journalist of Russian origin, Pablo Gonzalez (Pavel Rubtsov), who has been under arrest in Poland since last February, is suspected of following journalist Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, according to a report by the independent investigative outlet Agentstvo (“The Agency”) citing two sources.

According to a source from the Boris Nemtsov Foundation, Gonzalez met Nemtsova in Brussels in 2016. They became friends, and the Spaniard began to be invited to the foundation's events. When Gonzalez was detained in Poland, the local intelligence services studied the digital media seized from the journalist and found detailed reports on Nemtsova's activities, as well as people from her entourage. The journalist was particularly interested in the Ukrainian and American participants in the foundation’s summer school. It is likely that the surveillance was carried out on the instructions of the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence service.

Gonzalez's reports mention people he met through the Nemtsov Foundation, in particular lawyer Ilya Novikov and opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza. Investigators also found Boris Nemtsov's personal letters on the data carriers seized from the journalist, allegedly copied from Zhanna Nemtsova’s laptop. His possession of the letters has led to Gonzalez facing an additional charge of illegally accessing information.

Gonzalez (first on the left) with opposition politician Ilya Yashin
Gonzalez (first on the left) with opposition politician Ilya Yashin
Photo: Agentstvo

Zhanna Nemtsova refused to answer Agentstvo’s questions, citing the fact that she had signed a non-disclosure agreement with the Polish authorities. Nemtsov Foundation co-founder Olga Shorina confirmed that Gonzalez had taken part in the organization's events, but assured that he had no access to documents or confidential information.

Pablo Gonzalez was born in the Soviet Union to a Russian father and a Spanish mother, and holds two citizenships. He later followed his mother and settled in Spain. Since 2014, Gonzalez has worked as a war correspondent covering events in Crimea and Donbas. Shortly before the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine, the SBU (Ukraine’s Security Service) expelled Gonzalez from the country. He was soon detained in Poland on suspicion of working for Russian intelligence and intending to return to Ukraine illegally.

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