The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is ceasing all operations inside Russia, according to a statement released by the organization on September 15. OCCRP co-founder Drew Sullivan says the group’s work in Russia now risks “more harm than good for local journalists”:
This doesn’t mean that we’ll stop writing about large-scale corruption in this country. We simply understand that the government, as it always has, will punish its own citizens for collaborating with us.
OCCRP says it has invited staff based inside Russia to move abroad and continue working for the organization. The project is also offering severance pay and help with finding a new job to any employees who wish to remain in Russia.
A day before OCCRP’s announcement, the project co-published an investigative report with iStories about Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s alleged “female companion.”
A consortium of investigative centers, media, and journalists operating in Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, Central Asia, and Central America, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project was founded in 2006. The group is best known for its work on the “Panama Papers” (leaked financial documents that were published beginning in April 2016 about offshore entities linked to officials like Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, and friends of Vladimir Putin).
In the summer of 2021, Russia’s Justice Ministry designated several OCCRP journalists in Russia as “foreign agents.”