Russian investigators search leading journalist's apartment

By The Associated Press | Posted - Feb. 28, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.

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MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's top investigative agency searched the apartment of a prominent opposition journalist Tuesday in what Amnesty International said was a "deeply alarming" development.

Zoya Svetova wrote on her blog that investigators deceived her by saying they came to give her a summons and then elbowed their way into her Moscow apartment. Several officers of the Federal Security Service, the main KGB successor agency known as the FSB, accompanied workers of the Investigative Committee, she said.

"I had to let them in or they would have simply beaten me up," Svetova added.

The Investigative Committee said its workers searched the apartment as part of a probe into alleged fraud and money-laundering by exiled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Once Russia's richest man, Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 in a tax evasion and money-laundering case that was widely seen as revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin's authority. He served 10 years in prison before being pardoned and moving abroad, and he has used some of his remaining wealth to support independent media, political prisoners and opposition activists.

Sergei Nikitin, director of Amnesty International Russia, said the search of Svetova's home "seems like a blatant attempt by the authorities to interfere with her legitimate work as a journalist and perhaps a warning for her and others of the risks of human rights work and independent journalism in Russia."

The search came two days after protesters marked the second anniversary of the killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Thousands turned out Sunday for a march in Moscow and other Russian cities to mourn Nemtsov, who was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin on Feb. 27, 2015.

Svetova writes for various publications, focusing on human rights and defense of political prisoners. She previously worked for Reporters without Borders and the Soros Foundation in Russia.

She said the FSB officers saw a document from a KGB search of her dissident parents' apartment 30 years ago and commented that the KGB officers who conducted it still work for successor agency.

"I feel deeply sad," Svetova wrote. "It had seemed that things like that can't happen again in this country."

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