On Friday, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation included a group of journalists, as well as the Dozhd TV channel and the legal entity of the Vosthnye Stories online publication, to the register of foreign media agents. The list includes, in particular, Roman Anin, Olesya Shmagun and Dmitry Velikovsky. In 2017, they, like other participants International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), won the Pulitzer Prize for their publications on Panamanian offshores. This largest investigation involved 400 people from 77 countries, noted “New Newspaper”.
The Panama Papers were released by the ICIJ in the spring of 2016. They contain 11.5 million documents stolen from the servers of Mossack Fonseca, one of the leading offshore registrars in the world. The investigation revealed data on numerous offshore companies used by state leaders, politicians, celebrities, and famous athletes.
When analyzing the documents, it turned out that offshore companies were owned, in particular, by the families of 12 high-ranking Russian officials, including the press secretary of President Dmitry Peskov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow Maxim Liksutov, then Minister of Economic Development Alexei Ulyukaev, former Governor of the Pskov Region, Secretary of the General Council “United Russia” Andrei Turchak, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Igor Zubov.
In addition, the “Panama Papers” featured cellist Sergei Roldugin, who is considered “Putin’s purse”, as well as 16 Russian dollar billionaires, deputies and senators who are legally prohibited from doing business. In the years that have passed since the publication of the archive, not a single criminal case has been opened in Russia based on its motives. The Prosecutor General’s Office explained this by the fact that the Panamanian authorities do not provide documents that would confirm the violations described in the investigation.
Nevertheless, the Kremlin had to explain itself. Press Secretary of the Russian President Dmitry Peskov called the investigation “speculation”, which is directed against the President of Russia. The Kremlin spokesman also linked this information attack to a “high degree of Putinophobia” abroad, reported BBC Russian Service. Vladimir Putin himself called the information contained in the Panama Papers “nonsense”.
Important Stories were created by Novaya Gazeta journalists Roman Anin and Olesya Shmagun just a year ago, but since then they have published many investigations of corruption in the highest echelons of the Russian government. In December 2020, for example, they released an investigation into financial fraud involving the son-in-law and daughter of Vladimir Putin. Six of the eight co-authors of this investigation, including Dmitry Velikovsky, are included in the register of foreign media agents. In March Roman Anin published investigation of the connections of the first deputy director of the FSB, Sergei Korolev, with the criminal world.
Other journalists from Vostochnye Stories, who were on Friday on the black list of the Ministry of Justice, also became laureates of prestigious awards. So, Irina Dolinina and Alesya Marokhovskaya in 2020 were awarded the HSE Alumni Awards for outstanding graduates of the Higher School of Economics for their contribution to the development of media culture and infrastructure. Roman Shleinov is the recipient of several professional awards, including the Paul Khlebnikov Prize and the Integrity Award from Transparency International.