April 14, 2010 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Police try to search Moscow weekly for sources to story about elite unit

Reporters Without Borders condemns today’s abortive attempt by the Moscow police to search the premises of the Moscow-based independent weekly The New Times/Novoye Vremya in execution of a court order that is the subject of an appeal by the weekly. Moscow’s Tverskoi district court issued the search order on 5 April in response to a libel action by the elite Omon police and the General Directorate for Internal Affairs (GUVD) under article 129 of the criminal code over a 1 February story in The New Times headlined “Omon Slaves” about alleged corrupt practices within the elite unit. Reporters Without Borders stresses its complete support for the magazine and its staff, who have the courage to do proper investigative reporting into matters of general interest, an activity that is at the core of real journalism. “We share the view of The New Times editor Yevgenia Albats that the protection of journalists’ sources is an essential element of press freedom and that investigative journalism cannot exist without it,” Reporters Without Borders said. No search can legally be carried out in response to the court order until the weekly’s appeal has been heard, and The New Times deputy editor Ilya Barabanov told Reporters Without Borders that the search order was illegal under articles 41 and 49 of the media law. Based on information provided by unidentified sources with Omon, The New Times story accused the elite unit of selling its protection services to businessmen and even criminal organisations. It drew an immediate denial from Omon followed by the libel action. The New Times report (in Russian):