Russian authorities have put investigative journalist Andrei Soldatov on the country’s federal wanted list and frozen his bank accounts. Soldatov is one of Russia’s leading and remaining independent journalists, having intimate knowledge of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).

“My Monday: my accounts in Russian banks are under arrest, plus I’m placed on Russia’s wanted list,” wrote Soldatov on Twitter after discovering the criminal case against him.

Soldatov said that he got a series of odd messages starting on the morning of June 6 about his Moscow bank account being blocked. Upon further digging, he soon discovered that his accounts had been frozen because he was a suspect in a criminal investigation.

After consulting his lawyer, Soldatov checked Russia’s wanted list found on the Russian Interior Ministry’s website. There he saw his face along with biographical details posted as a wanted criminal. He noted that the page did not bother citing any specified article in the criminal code that he allegedly violated.



The case against him was filed by the Russian Investigative Committee, the country’s primary prosecution arm, according to Soldatov. He said that the accusation is likely linked to new Russian legislation suppressing so-called “fake news” on the invasion of Ukraine. Under the new law, which was passed days after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, individuals can be penalized fines of up to $15,000 (~1.5 million rubles) with a prison sentence of up to 15 years for knowingly spreading “fake news.” In Russian terms, “fake news” is intentionally vague to allow prosecutors to define it as it suits them in a criminal charge.  It is generally understood to mean anything Putin might object to.