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1 Apr, 2024 15:58

Ukraine targets RT chief with criminal probe

An expansion of the formal investigation against Margarita Simonyan has been announced by the Ukrainian secret police
Ukraine targets RT chief with criminal probe

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has expanded its investigation against RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan.

The agency has announced that it suspects Simonyan of several criminal offenses under Ukrainian law. She was described in a Monday statement as a “propagandist” who has been furthering “Russian narratives” via social media and during interviews.

The list of offenses attributed to the journalist cites alleged includes crimes against the Ukrainian state, including “propaganda of war,” the general infringement of its sovereignty, and the specific “denial of armed aggression by Russia.” A Ukrainian court ordered Simonyan’s arrest for suspected violations against its territorial integrity in March 2022.

The SBU has also claimed it has documented “public calls for mass killings of Ukrainian children in December 2023,” by Simonyan, but did not say which particular remarks it was referring to.

“Since this malicious actor is hiding from justice on the territory of Russia, complex measures remain underway to hold her accountable,” the message stressed.

Reacting to the announcement, Simonyan said that Kiev apparently intended to achieve two things.

“One is to block my ability to travel around the world, believing that I will suffer from this. They believe that everyone who supports Putin does not leave the French Riviera. I’ve got bad news for them – the only riviera which I would be upset about not being able to visit is my native Krasnodar Region,” RT’s editor-in-chief said.

“Secondly, they are seeing a narrative in case they do kill me, which they have tried to do several times already,” added Simonyan. “It doesn’t seem nice to go after a journalist, and a mother of several children at that. But if you accuse her of supposedly calling for the deaths of children, that appears more palatable.”

Last July, Russian law enforcement reported thwarting a Ukrainian plot to assassinate Simonyan. The alleged criminal conspiracy involved a group of Russian neo-Nazis, who were offered $16,600 to kill her, according to investigators.

The SBU purportedly picked the individuals for the job after seeing videos of their attacks on foreign nationals, which they recorded and uploaded online. Their lawyer said the accused had confessed to the beatings, but had denied planning the hit.

The defendants claimed they had wanted to get paid for the murder in advance, but didn’t get any money when they came to retrieve an assault rifle from a cache prepared by the organizers.

Last week, SBU head Vasily Malyuk was asked about several high-profile crimes committed on Russian soil against purported enemies of Ukraine, including murders and attempted murders. The official said the question was “directed to the right address, but we will not acknowledge that in any way.” Malyuk, who is wanted for terrorism in Russia, proceeded to provide some details about the attacks.

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