Police raid apartments of Moscow student magazine editors

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Russian police on Wednesday morning raided the Moscow apartments of several editors of DOXA, an online student magazine that rose to prominence covering mass protests in Moscow in 2019 and advocating for student rights.

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DOXA said in a statement on its website that police officers searched apartments of four of the magazine’s editors, as well as the apartments of two of the editors’ parents and the magazine’s offices.

After the searches, all four editors — Armen Aramyan, Natalya Tyshkevich, Vladimir Metelkin and Alla Gutnikova — were taken to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the statement said. They are accused of encouraging minors to take part in illegal activity, a criminal offense punishable by up to three years in prison, according to the statement.

DOXA said the crackdown was connected to a video the magazine ran ahead of January protests organized to support jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Two weekends of nationwide mass rallies in support of Navalny were Russia’s biggest in recent years, posing a major challenge for the Kremlin.

The video talked about pressure school and university students faced before the protests, including threats of expulsion. Russia’s media and internet watchdog, Roskomnadzor, demanded DOXA delete it several days after it ran, alleging that it contained information encouraging minors to take part in illegal activity.

Police detain a man during a rally in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Saint Petersburg on January 31, 2021. (AFP)
Police detain a man during a rally in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Saint Petersburg on January 31, 2021. (AFP)

The magazine complied, but Aramyan, Tyshkevich, Metelkin and Gutnikova filed a lawsuit to contest the order.

DOXA said Wednesday that the video contained “no calls for unlawful actions — we were saying that young people shouldn’t be afraid to express their opinion.”

“The pressure the journalist community has faced recently is unprecedented, but we won’t stop our work. We will continue to cover what’s important for young people and will continue to stand up for their rights,” the magazine’s statement read.

The raids came several days after police searched the apartment of a prominent investigative journalist, Roman Anin, chief editor of the Vazhniye Istorii website. The website said the raid likely involved a 2016 story Anin wrote for the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that alleged a lavish super-yacht belonged to Igor Sechin, head of Russian state oil company Rosneft.

Novaya Gazeta was ordered to retract the story as a result of a civil court case, but a criminal case in the matter has been pending for years.

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