Khodorkovsky says he is ready to relocate his journalists based in Russia in the face of the “next purge”
Former exiled tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has said he plans to move employees of his media projects out of Russia or shut them down completely due to state pressure on dissent.
Khodorkovsky launched Open Media and MBKh Media in 2017 after Russian authorities blacklisted his pro-democracy NGO Open Russia, banning its activities in the country. Last week, Russian prosecutors added four more civil society and education groups linked to Khodorkovsky, all based abroad, to its list of “undesirable” organizations.
“With the level of pressure the government is putting on my people right now, I will do my best to protect them by moving the projects out of Russia or stopping them altogether.“Khodorkovsky tweeted on Friday.
“I do not have the confidence to say that people known as opposition journalists, those who openly voice their position, will not become the next target of the purge.“
At least one journalist, Alexander Skrylnikov of MBKh Media that goes through Syrnikov, confirmed that he had fled Russia without specifying whether he had moved as part of Khodorkovsky’s engagement.
âLife in Russia was becoming more difficult and dangerous for me every day. I left the country, leaving people dear to my heart here, âSkrylnikov said. tweeted Thursday.
Khodorkovsky, who spent nearly a decade in a Russian prison on charges of fraud he said were politically motivated, announced his decision three months after the state-funded RFE / RL media outlet – United, reportedly offered to help staff relocate. Russia has fined RFE / RL millions of dollars for its designation as a “foreign agent,” a label that could result in jail terms for its employees.
Members of “undesirable” foreign groups also face up to four years in prison, while those accused of organizing its activities face up to six years in prison.
Another âunwantedâ Khodorkovsky group, the opposition Open Russia movement, disbanded in May to avoid jail terms for its supporters ahead of parliamentary elections this fall. Its former executive director Andrei Pivovarov was later arrested after being taken off a flight to Moscow and now faces up to six years in prison under the “unwanted” law.
In 2018, Khodorkovsky withdrew funding from one of its investigative bodies following the murder of three employees filming an investigation into the private military group Wagner in the Central African Republic.