On Friday, July 23, Russia’s Justice Ministry designated another prominent independent news outlet as a “foreign agent,” adding The Insider to its registry. The federal agency also designated another five journalists as “individual foreign agents.”
Editor-in-chief Roman Dobrokhotov told MBK Media that the Russian Justice Ministry’s actions have no bearing on The Insider’s operations. “We’re a Latvian publication that’s registered in Latvia according to Latvian regulations,” said Dobrokhotov. “The outlet has no representative office in Russia, so all these crazy laws [in Russia] don’t apply to The Insider. We’ll keep working as we always have.”
The Insider is best known in Russia as the investigative website Bellingcat’s local partner. The two groups have jointly published multiple bombshell investigations about Russian intelligence operations at home and around the world.
So far in 2021, Russia’s Justice Ministry has added 17 new entries to its “foreign agents” registry, including Meduza (the website you’re reading right now). A week ago, the agency added five journalists from the investigative outlet Proekt, just as the Russian Attorney General’s Office outlawed Proekt’s U.S.-based publisher as an “undesirable organization.” In May 2021, the Russian government also designated VTimes (a website founded by editors fleeing editorial interference at Vedomosti) as a “foreign agent.”