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Kremlin critic journalist kept from BATFA awards over safety fears

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Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev, a long-time Kremlin critic, on Friday said he had been “banned” from attending the upcoming BAFTA awards in London, where a documentary about dissident Alexei Navalny is nominated.

Grozev, who is credited with having helped reveal the plot to kill Navalny, appears in the documentary.

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But on Friday he tweeted that he had been “surprised to discover that my whole family and I have all been banned by British police from attending this weekend’s BAFTA awards”.

Police had deemed them a “public security risk”, he added.

A statement from the Metropolitan Police said the force could not comment on individual cases, but that “the fact that some journalists face the hostile intentions of foreign states whilst in the UK is a reality that we are absolutely concerned with”.

It could not ban individuals from attending private events, but had advised organisers of the showpiece British film awards, the Met added.

“We recognise that our advice can mean organisers have difficult choices to make when deciding how best to mitigate any risks to the security of their event, and we are grateful for the ongoing engagement of BAFTA.”

BAFTA said the safety of its guests and staff was a priority, adding that it has “robust and appropriate security arrangements in place every year.”

Grozev, who is the lead Russia investigator for the award-winning investigative website Bellingcat, tweeted that “moments like this show the growing dangers to independent journalists around the world.

“These dangers don’t stem just from murderous dictators, but also from having journalists’ voices hushed -- instead of amplified -- by the civilised world they are trying to serve,” he added.

Navalny, the most prominent opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been held for the past two years at a maximum-security prison outside Moscow after an embezzlement conviction.

Before that, however, he was poisoned with the Soviet-made nerve agent Novichok on a trip to Siberia in 2020 and has accused Putin of being behind the attack.

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