20 Oct 2020 Lvl. 1
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Alert created on: 27 Aug 2020 n° 175/2020 Russian Federation

Russian Journalists Aleksandr Dorogov and Yan Katelevskiy Imprisoned, Beaten During Arrests and Detention

2 Journalists in detention
Source of threatState
CategoryDetention and imprisonment of journalists
Partner CPJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
No state reply yet
Partner CPJ EFJ/IFJ RSF
In the early hours of 29 July 2020, police in Mosrentgen, near Moscow, beat and arrested Aleksandr Dorogov and Yan Katelevskiy, deputy chief editors of the independent investigative website Rosderzhava, according to the journalists’ lawyers Konstantin Barkovskiy and Olga Balabanova. Both journalists have been charged with extortion, an offence carrying up to 15 years in prison under the Criminal Code, and authorities also charged Katelevskiy with property damage and Dorogov with hooliganism. If convicted of these charges, Katelevskiy could face up to five years in prison, and Dorogov could face up to seven years in prison. According to their lawyers, both journalists deny the charges and believe the arrests are retaliation for their work, in particular a recent investigation into alleged corruption between funeral businesses and senior police officials.
According to Barkovskiy, authorities had charged Dorogov with extortion as early as 14 July, and the Tverskoi District Court of Moscow had placed him under house arrest on 28 July, but neither the journalist nor his lawyer had been informed. The Central Administrative District of the Ministry of Internal Affairs also charged Dorogov with hooliganism on 20 August. According to Balabanova, Katelevskiy was charged with property damage before the Ramenskiy City Court of the Moscow Region on 30 July. On 17 August, the Lyuberetskiy City Court of the Moscow Region released the journalist into house arrest, but police detained him again immediately, and charged him with extortion. On 19 August, the Ramenskiy court ruled to keep Katelevskiy in pre-trial detention until 17 October.
The extortion charges against Dorogov and Katelevskiy stem from a 21 May 2020 complaint filed by a traffic police officer, alleging that he paid the journalists 1,300,000 rubles (€14,500) to stop them from publishing YouTube videos mocking and criticising him, according to news reports. The property damage charge against Katelevskiy stems from an August 2019 incident in which Katelevskiy and Dorogov were accused of damaging someone’s car, with the car owner claiming 85,000 rubles (€950) in damages in a complaint, Balabanova said. The hooliganism charge against Dorogov originates in a Spring 2019 incident, when the employees of a company that Dorogov was investigating attacked him, before accusing him of attacking them. According to Barkovskiy, the journalist maintains his innocence and claims to have acted in self-defense.
Currently, Dorogov is detained at the Yegoryevsk detention center, Katelevskiy at the Kolomna detention center. Balabanova said that in detention, police threw Katelevskiy on the floor, handcuffed him, and punched him in the head, making him deaf on one ear. Barkovskiy reported that police punched, kicked, and pushed Dorogov against the wall, possibly giving him a concussion. The journalist was also beaten by his cellmates on 10 August. Barkovskiy told CPJ he visited Dorogov in detention on 20 August, and said that the journalist limped on one leg, had a bruise under his left eye, a large bruise on his left shoulder, a torn ear, and complained of strong pain in his ribs and dizziness. He added that following the complaint he filed, the Public Monitoring Commission for the Moscow Region visited Dorogov in detention and documented his injuries. On 25 August, a member of the Public Monitoring Commission told CPJ that the commission confirmed that Dorogov had been attacked, and filed a report to the Yegoryevsk Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation and to the Yegoryevsk Prosecutor’s Office for further investigation.
Rosderzhava publishes reports on alleged corruption among law enforcement officials, focusing on the Moscow region. Dorogov and Katelevskiy also have blogs on YouTube, where they frequently talk about alleged police misconduct: Dorogov’s channel, Prikluchenie Dorogova i Ego Druzei, has over 56,000 subscribers; Katelevskiy’s, Ya.N, had over 300,000 subscribers. According to Balabanova, Ya.N was taken down after Katelevskiy’s arrest, and police confiscated the journalist’s work equipment, possibly gaining access to social network accounts and cloud storage. She filed a complaint with the Yegorevsk Investigative Department of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation on excessive use of force by the police during the journalists’ arrests.
CPJ emailed the Lyuberetskiy and Ramenskiy courts and the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the Moscow Region for comment, but did not receive any responses.
Updates
20 Oct 2020
On 14 October 2020, the Serpukhov City Court extended Yan Katelevskiy’s period of pre-trial detention until January 2021.
Journalists in detention

Currently in detention (2):

Aleksandr Dorogov, Yan Katelevskiy
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