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Russia bans news outlet Bellingcat, labels it a security threat

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins poses for a portrait just after giving a press meeting reverse the Homes of Parliament in London, Britain, Oct 9, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON, July 15 (Reuters) – Russia on Friday banned investigative information outlet Bellingcat and its principal regional companion from operating inside the nation, branding them safety threats.

Netherlands-dependent Bellingcat exposed the Russian-backed troopers powering the downing of Malaysian Airways jet MH17 over eastern Ukraine in 2014 and unmasked FSB agents despatched to poison Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in 2020.

Russia’s Prosecutor General mentioned the actions of Bellingcat its companion The Insider “posed a risk to… the protection of the Russian federation.”

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Both equally will be extra to Russia’s “undesirable” checklist, which bans them from working in Russia and helps make cooperating with them illegal for Russian organisations and people, he stated in a statement.

Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins dismissed the ban, crafting on Twitter: “Bellingcat has no legal, fiscal or staff existence (in Russia), so it’s unclear how Russia expects to implement this.”

The Insider is lawfully headquartered in Latvia, a go intended to guard it from Russian authorities.

It has worked with Bellingcat on most of the organisation’s higher-profile investigations around the last five a long time, which also consist of determining and monitoring the actions of the males powering the 2018 poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in Britain.

In a broad move to stamp out opposition and dissent, Russia has labelled dozens of intercontinental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and civil society groups as “unwanted”, and hundreds of domestic teams and journalists that oppose the Kremlin have been named “foreign agents”.

The crackdown has intensified since Russia invaded Ukraine in February – a campaign the Kremlin refers to as a “exclusive armed forces procedure” – with just about all impartial teams outlawed or forced into exile, and new legislation that make criticism of the armed forces punishable with up to 15 yrs in prison.

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Reporting by Reuters enhancing by John Stonestreet

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