The Investigative Committee opened a probe against Novaya Gazeta reporter Irek Murtazin, claiming that he might have revealed secret details of the investigation against opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg, the committee’s spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said Monday.
In an article published last week, Murtazin posted scans of the allegedly classified documents, including a complaint by cosmetics maker Yves Rocher against Glavnoye Podpisnoye Agentstvo, a courier company linked to the brothers, he said in a statement on the committee’s website. The article triggered a campaign by bloggers and activists to boycott Yves Rocher because of what they perceive as the company’s participation in political repression against the opposition leader.
“Only a limited number of participants in the trial — who had been warned that disclosure of criminal case materials is forbidden by law — had access to those documents,” Markin said.
Novaya Gazeta editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov rejected the allegations Monday, saying his newspaper had not violated the law.
“We didn’t disclose any state secret. We don’t know any secrets. … I know that the newspaper was acting in line with the law,” he told Interfax.
Murtazin echoed the thought, saying he could not have disclosed any secrets connected with the investigation, since he was not involved in the criminal case.
“I didn’t sign a non-disclosure agreement, and the Mass Media Law gives me the right not to disclose the sources of information,” he said in comments posted on Novaya Gazeta’s website.
Muratov also said his publication was ready to cooperate with investigators.
“Apparently, those who organized the smear campaign against the foreign company pursue the goal of forcing the businessmen to withdraw their claim,” said Markin of the Investigative Committee.
He said that according to Russian law the criminal case against the opposition activist and his brother did not depend on whether there is a victim’s complaint.
Investigators opened the criminal case against Navalny and his brother in December on charges of large-scale fraud and money laundering.