The controversial US government-funded organization has been banned by the attorney general’s office
Russia’s prosecutor general’s office on Friday called the Western state-funded investigative group Bellingcat, along with two other nonprofits, “undesirable organizations”. The designation, which is expected to be formalized soon by the country’s Justice Ministry, effectively signifies a ban on operating in Russia.
Prosecutors have targeted both the British company Bellingcat Ltd. and its Dutch subsidiary Stichting Bellingcat. The Latvian-registered media The Insider and the Czech-domiciled Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI) were also considered non-profit organizations. “undesirable.” All of these organizations pose a threat to Russia “constitutional order and security”, prosecutors said in a statement.
The designation involves the mandatory closure of all locals and the freezing of all assets held in Russia. Attempts to circumvent the ban are subject to administrative and criminal penalties.
Over the past few months, Moscow has repeatedly targeted Bellingcat, placing the group under various restrictions. In October 2021, Russia previously called the organization, led by British citizen Eliot Higgins, a “foreign agent” – a statute which imposed certain restrictions on its operations. Further action was taken by the national internet and media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, in March when it blocked access to its website.
Founded in 2014, Bellingcat markets itself as an investigative group specializing in fact-checking and open-source intelligence, with input from professional and citizen journalists. He received public funds from the United States, Great Britain and the Netherlands.
Russian foreign intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin accused Bellingcat of working closely with Western intelligence services.
The sole purpose of the group was to “put pressure on the country [Russia]or natural and legal persons, claimed the patron of spies.
“They use dishonest methods. And the information used in such cases is false, unverified, they have their own goals… They are ready to perform any task, because they do it for money, not objectively”, Naryshkin affirmed.
The GrayZone last year revealed the group had ‘taken huge sums from Western intelligence contractors’, while MintPress News explained how it was funded by a CIA organization and filled with ex-spies and state intelligence agents.
Bellingcat has repeatedly targeted Russia in its work, trying to blame Moscow for the 2014 downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over the Donbass, as well as various incidents related to the war in Syria and the war. suspected poisoning of prominent Russian opponent Alexey. Navalny. The group’s findings have been repeatedly amplified by mainstream Western media outlets, which regularly take them at face value, without mentioning their funding.
Moscow, however, has repeatedly questioned Bellingcat’s credibility, challenging the group’s findings with its own data.
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