May 30, 2023

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Russia Puts Soldatov on Wanted List After Exposed Putin Purges of FSB

  • Journalist Andrei Soldatov told Insider he’d been placed on a Russian “wanted” list. 
  • He exposed turmoil and purges in Russia’s security services prompted by failings in Ukraine. 
  • The Kremlin is punishing anybody in Russia who deviates from its triumphant official war narrative.

Andrei Soldatov, a journalist and prominent expert on Russia’s security services, told Insider that has been placed on a “wanted” list in Russia and had his bank accounts frozen after fleeing the country. 

The investigative reporter said the move was retaliation for exposing purges and failings in Russia’s security services amid the stalled invasion of Ukraine. 

Soldatov, who founded the website that monitors Russia’s security services, said in a tweet Tuesday: “My Monday: my accounts in Russian banks are under arrest, plus I’m placed on Russia’s wanted list.”

Soldatov told Insider that the case had been filed by the Russian Investigative Committee, the Russian government’s main prosecution office.

He said it was not clear what he had been accused of, but that it likely related to new laws seeking to suppress what the Kremlin deems to be “fake news” about the war in Ukraine. 

“I think it’s caused by my reporting about the role of the FSB [Russia’s domestic security agency] in the war,” he said.

He described a “backlash” from the investigative committee after he reported on purges within the agency after the invasion, first in the form of senior officials being arrested in retribution for poor intelligence that underpinned mistakes in the beginning of the invasion.

Speaking from Moscow in March, Soldatov went further, telling Insider that the Kremlin had launched a search for moles in the FSB, suspecting that some of its agents were leaking information to the US. 

Soldatov told Insider on Monday that he was now based in the UK.

Insider has contacted the Russian embassy in the UK for comment. 

Soldatov is among the world’s foremost authorities on Russia’s security services, and is one of few experts who has been able to penetrate the secretive agencies, detail their failings, and their brutal rivalries. 

He has commented on Russian security issues for prominent Western outlets including The New York Times, New Yorker and the Times of London, and is a fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis. 

The Kremlin has launched a wide-ranging crackdown on independent reporting of its invasion within Russia.

Russia’s state TV channels have kept up a steady drum-beat of propaganda, seeking to portray the war as a mission to defend Russia against destruction by the West and its allies.

Evidence of war crimes and atrocities by Russian troops is not reported, and outlets are banned from describing the military activity in Ukraine as a “war” or an “invasion,” instead using the euphemism “special military operation.”