Russian security agents raided the Moscow offices of the opposition news website MBKh Media and the blacklisted Open Russia pro-democracy group, the outlet reported early Friday.
The raids came two days after Russia’s state communications regulator asked Twitter to delete MBKh Media’s account for allegedly posting tweets containing materials from Open Russia.
“There are more than four of them and they have a support group, men in balaclavas, and they’re waiting for someone to arrive at the office,” editor-in-chief Veronika Kutsyllo toldthe RBC news website.
“I haven’t spoken to them yet but from what I understand they’re planning something,” Kutsyllo said.
Security officers have also arrived at Open Russia’s St. Petersburg office, its head Anastasia Burakova told MBKh Media.
It was not yet clear whether the raids were linked to Roskomnadzor’s demand to delete MBKh Media’s Twitter account.
MBKh denied publishing Open Russia’s materials or receiving a formal notice from the regulator. Roskomnadzor later said it demanded the closure of MBKh Media’s Twitter account because the outlet has been banned in Russia since 2018.
Russia designated Open Russia as an “undesirable organization” and banned its activities in 2017.
Previous raids on MBKh Media and Open Russia employees in July and September 2020 were reportedly linked to the 2003 court case against founder and exiled oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s defunct oil giant Yukos.
This week, Roskomnadzor also threatened to block Twitter within Russia altogether as Moscow amped up its rhetoric against western social media platforms.