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Christo Grozew from Bellingcat – there were real plans to assassinate me in London, several people were detained. The journalist wrote about Russia’s intelligence service

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Christo Grozev, a Bulgarian journalist associated with the investigative portal Bellingcat, reported that people suspected of preparing an attack on him were detained in London. “I have been asked not to ask any more questions until the investigation is complete,” he added. Grozev is the author of articles on the activities of Russian military intelligence in Eastern Europe. At the end of last year, Russia issued an arrest warrant for him.

Grozew had London take part in the BAFTA award ceremony at the end of February as a co-creator of the award-winning film about the leader of the opposition in Russia Alexei Navalny. However, the security services forbade him from attending the ceremony, claiming that an assassination attempt was being prepared against him and that his presence at the ceremony could threaten public safety.

In an interview with BTV commercial television on Friday, Grozew said that he had received information from the services that “there were real plans for an attack in London, where I was supposed to be present at the BAFTA award ceremony”. – Several people related to the case have been arrested. I have been asked not to ask any more questions until the investigation is complete.

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The journalist added that in the UK the threats concerned not only himself, but also colleagues with whom he had worked in recent years.

Christo GrozewJULIEN DE ROSA/AFP/East News

He was warned not to return home

Grozew himself received threats in Austriawhere he has lived for years. Recently, however, as reported by the Amsterdam-based portal Moscow Times, he was unable to return to Vienna from a trip to the United States because he had been warned that if he returned he may be in danger.

“I suspect that there are more Russian agents, informers and henchmen in the city than policemen,” Grozev said in an interview with the Austrian weekly Falter quoted by the Moscow Times.

Journalist pursued by Kremlin, Bulgarian diplomacy reacts

In October 2021, the Russian Ministry of Justice placed Bellingcat on the list of media and persons “acting as foreign agents”. In July 2022, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) concluded that Grozev was involved in a “thwarted plot” to hijack Russian fighter jets, but did not say whether it ultimately charged the journalist with criminal charges in absentia.

At the end of 2022, the authorities announced that Grozew is wanted on a warrant for publications – according to the Kremlin – intended to slander the Russian army.

As a consequence, the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Russian ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova for an interview. Bulgarian Prime Minister Glyb Donev said at the time that the authorities had not been notified of the decision in advance Russia and found out about it from publications in the media. He added that the government Bulgaria expressed an official protest against the ambassador and expected explanations as to the basis on which Moscow decided to take such a step.

The Bulgarian government took steps to protect the journalist

After the meeting at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mitrofanova assessed that sending an arrest warrant to Russia “does not mean that (Grozev – ed.) will be wanted all over the world.” “It was just a way of telling him: don’t come to Russia again,” the ambassador said. In her opinion, it was not an attempt to intimidate Grozew and, according to her, there is no threat to his safety.

In December 2022, the press office of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev reported that steps had been taken to protect the journalist. Grozev himself had previously stated that he had reason to fear for his safety in connection with the decision taken by the Russian authorities. The last time the journalist visited Russia was in 2016.

Grozew deals with Russian topics

Grozev is the author of a number of publications on the activities of Russian military intelligence in Eastern Europe, including articles about the attempts to poison the Bulgarian businessman from the arms industry, Emilian Gebrew.

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The 53-year-old investigative journalist publicized e.g. in Bellingcat, the case of the 2018 attempt to poison Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK, and the same attempts made in 2020 against Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. In addition, the portal investigated the shooting down in 2014 over Ukraine Malaysian airliner and publicizes Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine.

In 2019, Grozew won the European Press Prize Investigative Reporting Award.

Main photo source: Shutterstock



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