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Black-Market Database of Leaked Info Lists Russian Wartime Emigres – Agentstvo

Cars wait in line on the road for the Verkhny Lars checkpoint on the Russian-Georgian border. Valery Sharifulin / TASS

A provider of stolen personal data sold on the black market has compiled a list of Russians who left the country following the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the independent investigative news outlet Agentstvo reported Sunday.

The database lists individuals who left for more than two months between 2022 and 2024, Agentstvo said, without indicating how many names appear on it.

The three reasons listed for the emigres' departures are the February 2022 invasion, the September 2022 “partial” mobilization and the June 2023 Wagner mercenary group mutiny. 

Agentstvo said it chose not to disclose the name of the black-market database provider but did not specify why.

The outlet only said that the database provider compiled the list of emigres from leaked airline databases and added that it “also accounts for people who left our country’s borders by foot, sea and car.” 

Investigative journalists use black-market databases — known as probiv (loosely translated as “look-up”) — to access documents, residence, flight information and other stolen data and identify alleged Russian security personnel. They justify using this ethically questionable method of gaining information by arguing that uncovering their targets’ clandestine activities is in the public interest.

Agentstvo said it was able to verify 10 people on the list who had left and either never returned to Russia or came back more than two months later. The news outlet searched for the names of two others who returned within two months, but said these individuals were not on the list.

Agentstvo said it believed the database was compiled within the last three months and may be used “for repressions” by the state.

It pointed to the 2021 mass layoffs of state employees whose names appeared in a leaked database of late Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s supporters as a prior example.

An estimated 700,000 to 1.5 million Russians have left Russia following the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, either out of opposition to the war, economic worries or a refusal to be sent to the frontlines.

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