Support The Moscow Times!

Former Employees of Ksenia Sobchak Jailed in Rostec CEO Extortion Case

Kirill Sukhanov (right) and former Tatler editor-in-chief Arian Romanovsky. Sergei Fadeichev / TASS

Three former employees of Russian media influencer Ksenia Sobchak were sentenced to at least seven years in prison for trying to extort money from the head of state-owned defense conglomerate Rostec.

Multiple criminal cases were launched in August 2022 after Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov and his aides accused the managers of several Telegram news channels of demanding money in exchange for burying critical news coverage.

Among those ultimately caught up in the scandal was Kirill Sukhanov, an ex-business manager at Sobchak’s media holding Ostorozhno Media, who in October 2022 was detained at a Moscow restaurant while receiving cash from Chemezov’s representative Andrei Baldukhayev.

Arian Romanovsky, a former editor of fashion magazine Tatler Russia, was detained alongside Sukhanov. Tamerlan Bigayev, a former journalist with the pro-Kremlin tabloid Life.ru, was arrested on the same charges days later.

On Monday, Moscow’s Khamovniki District Court found all three guilty of extortion and sentenced Sukhanov to 7.5 years in maximum-security prison. Romanovsky and Bigayev were sentenced to seven years in maximum-security prison each.

Prosecutors had requested eight years in prison for Sukhanov and 7.5 years each for Romanovsky and Bigayev.

All three had pleaded not guilty to the extortion charges.

Sukhanov had admitted to receiving 800,000 rubles ($8,800) at the Moscow restaurant but denied having access to the Telegram channel where incriminating information about Chemezov had been published.

Sobchak, who in November 2022 visited the Rostec office and issued an on-camera apology, slammed Monday's verdict as “way more than injustice.”

“I’ve done everything we had agreed to get leniency [for Sukhanov, Romanovsky and Bigayev],” she wrote on her personal Telegram channel.

“Why are you ruining people’s lives?” she continued. “Why the disproportionality? Just as revenge?”

… we have a small favor to ask. As you may have heard, The Moscow Times, an independent news source for over 30 years, has been unjustly branded as a "foreign agent" by the Russian government. This blatant attempt to silence our voice is a direct assault on the integrity of journalism and the values we hold dear.

We, the journalists of The Moscow Times, refuse to be silenced. Our commitment to providing accurate and unbiased reporting on Russia remains unshaken. But we need your help to continue our critical mission.

Your support, no matter how small, makes a world of difference. If you can, please support us monthly starting from just $2. It's quick to set up, and you can be confident that you're making a significant impact every month by supporting open, independent journalism. Thank you.

Once
Monthly
Annual
Continue
paiment methods
Not ready to support today?
Remind me later.

Read more