18 Apr 2019 16:10

Searches in Rosbalt editorial office not connected to work of media outlet - editor-in-chief

MOSCOW. April 18 (Interfax) - The investigative actions being conducted in the Moscow office of the information agency Rosbalt are not connected to the media outlet's work, but the editorial office's operation has been suspended, the agency's editor-in-chief Nikolai Ulyanov told Interfax.

"A criminal case was opened in December 2018 based on the dissemination on the Internet of information defaming the business reputation of Alisher Usmanov, in which one of our employees and one website, whose names don't tell me much, are implicated. According to the police, the investigative actions are not being conducted against Rosbalt, but against a specific employee who works for us," Ulyanov said on Thursday.

"We did not have any investigations, big or small, relating to Alisher Usmanov, and therefore it is logical that it should have no relation to Rosbalt," he said.

"Nevertheless, the work of the editorial board has been paralyzed. Technical specialists are working upstairs; they are checking all computers and making an inventory. All in all, there's a lot of work being done," he said.

Ulyanov said he intends to consult an interrogator to clarify the situation.

"I was invited to go to a Moscow interior affairs department to talk to an interrogator following these actions, I hope I will get some clarity there," Ulyanov said.

Around ten police officers are now in the editorial office, where they are seizing the computer of the employee whose name is stated in the search warrant, he said. "As they have just told me, my computer is also being seized for some reason, although they did not say that before," he said.

The staff have been asked to provide their passwords, he said. "They said that otherwise they would seize all computers from the editorial office, which would fully paralyze its work," he said.

Ulyanov said he intends to go to the prosecutors after the search.

"I had a phone call from the Moscow prosecutors, they asked to describe all events in detail and said that no computers are to be seized according to the search warrant," Ulyanov said.

Dmitry Firsov, a lawyer for Rosbalt, said the investigative actions were being conducted in connection with a slander case opened in December 2018 based on a statement made by businessman Alisher Usmanov.

The Rosbalt editorial office said on Thursday morning that law enforcement officials were conducting investigative actions at its Moscow office.