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19 Jan, 2021 11:50

Russian policeman under house arrest, reportedly suspected of selling confidential flight information to Bellingcat – RBK sources

Russian policeman under house arrest, reportedly suspected of selling confidential flight information to Bellingcat – RBK sources

A police officer in Samara is being investigated on suspicion of leaking information from the country’s centralized travel records, which registers all tickets bought in Russia, linking them to passengers’ passport numbers.

Samara is a large city in the center of Russia, around 1,000 kilometers east of Moscow.

It is reported that the US and UK government-funded group Bellingcat used the data in a recent investigation into the alleged poisoning of Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

That’s according to Moscow daily newspaper RBK, citing a source, which revealed that authorities are clamping down on leaks from databases following the report. Bellingcat was joined by journalists from the the Russian-language outlet The Insider, America’s CNN and Germany’s Der Spiegel. Together, they were accessing the flight information of FSB agents they allege had trailed the anti-corruption activist around the country.

RBK’s source says that the accused policeman, Kirill Chuprov, is now under house arrest, and would face up to ten years in prison if convicted. Officially, no information has been released, but the Samara District Court's press service confirmed that he was detained on suspicion of abuse of office.

The source revealed that Chuprov had accessed data from the country’s travel database, which contains information about who has traveled on trains and planes. In Russia, internal flight and rail tickets are generally bought using passports, meaning that this data is highly valuable. If he is found to be the source of the information, in a challenge to Bellingcat's established narrative, the revelation would highlight that the organization not only uses open sources for its investigations, but also buys data from corrupt officials.

Also on rt.com Russian opposition figure Navalny detained at passport control after returning to Moscow following almost five months in Germany

According to the western state-funded outlet, leaked databases were an integral part of its investigation, allowing its team to track the locations of eight men they believe were part of a plot to poison Navalny. By accessing flight records, Bellingcat claimed that FSB agents had flown around the country to the same locations as the opposition figure.

Last month, Navalny published a recording of a telephone conversation with one of the alleged participants in the assassination attempt, a man purported to be FSB officer Konstantin Kudryavtsev. Kudryavtsev is one of the men whose movements were leaked, allegedly by Chuprov.

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