Russian security forces stormed the headquarters of an independent Kaliningrad-based newspaper, Novyye Kolyosa—called in English New Wheels—and detained the editor-in-chief, Igor Rudnikov, on November 1. Journalists at the newspaper also say that Rudnikov was badly beaten during the raid.
The Novyye Kolyosa editorial board reports that Rudnikov was taken from his home while handcuffed and brought to the newspaper’s headquarters on the evening of November 1. He was then interrogated for over five hours in a closed room while heavily-armed officers searched the office a
nd questioned staff. At around 10:30 PM, he was carried out of the office unconscious on a stretcher and was taken to a local hospital. At around 2:00 AM, security forces then took him from his hospital bed to his home for further searches, before finally bringing him to a Kaliningrad Federal Security Service (FSB) detention facility.
Regional Governor Anton Alikhanov announced that Rudnikov, also a deputy in the regional duma and prominent local politician, was detained on charges of extortion. A local state-run television channel, Vesti-Kaliningrad, reported that Rudnikov was arrested for extorting money from public figures in exchange for not publishing false and compromising information about them.
Colleagues at Novyye Kolyosa dismiss this claim, saying the arrest was in retaliation for the newspaper’s previous investigative reports on local corruption. They specifically cited a recent report that exposed a luxury villa owned by Viktor Ledenyov, chief of the Kaliningrad branch of the Federal Investigative Committee (Sledkom), which is charged with eliminating corruption nationwide. They also say the newspaper had received numerous warnings about investigating local officials in the past.
At a trial on November 3, a federal judge denied Rudnikov’s request to be placed under house arrest and said he should remain in custody until at least January 2018, pending the investigation. The regional FSB and Sledkom offices offered no comment on the case or alleged beatings.