The Russian Attorney General’s Office decided to ban the investigative news outlet Proekt after receiving a complaint from a concerned citizen named Vitaly Borodin, according to the website Baza, which published a copy of the letter to Attorney General Igor Krasnov. In his complaint, Borodin cites an article published by Russia Today that claims Proekt is supposedly “funded” by the U.S. Congress and under its “control.” He also listed the names of nine Proekt reporters “on the take” in America and asked why they weren’t already designated as “foreign agents.” Meduza explains who this man is.
Vitaly Borodin confirmed to the BBC that he filed the complaint against Proekt. “I want to live in a decent country, I don’t want interethnic conflict, and I don’t want any Maidan revolution. I just want peace and quiet,” he explained.
Journalists at the website Sota also learned that Borodin wrote a separate complaint against the Russian news organization Open Media (the Justice Ministry added two journalists from this outlet to its “foreign agents” registry on July 15). In his letter about Open Media, Borodin argued that its news coverage “is clearly anti-Russian.” The organization’s journalists, he insisted, are “foreign agents engaged in subversion.”
According to public information, Vitaly Borodin is the 37-year-old CEO and co-founder of the Federal Security and Anti-Corruption Foundation (FPBK) — a group reportedly created with help from the country’s ruling political party, United Russia, to be a response to Alexey Navalny’s similarly named and now outlawed Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK).
Vitaly Borodin is a trained lawyer. In the past, he helped manage United Russia’s “Youth Anti-Corruption Project” and served on an expert council for the State Duma’s Security Committee. He also has a seat on a Moscow police district’s public council.
More about Proekt’s plight
Too taboo Before Russia banned Proekt, this is whom its journalists investigatedOutlaw journalism Legally speaking, this is what Proekt’s ‘undesirable’ designation means for Russia’s news media and readers
This isn’t Borodin’s first barrage of complaints to the Attorney General’s Office. In 2019, when he was deputy head of the “People Against Corruption” political party, he asked Igor Krasnov’s predecessor, Yuri Chaika, to block entertainer Olga Buzova’s Instagram account for sharing a video where she facetiously compared herself to Leningrad’s blockade survivors. Following the controversy, Buzova herself closed her account to nonsubscribers. That same year, Borodin demanded an official investigation into alleged corruption involving Ilya Shulgin, then the Kirov governor’s chief of staff. The next year, police arrested Shulgin on charges of abusing his authority in office.
On July 15, the Russian Attorney General’s Office designated Proekt’s publisher, the American company “Project Media, Inc,” as an “undesirable organization,” outlawing all its operations in Russia, including the publication of Proekt. The Justice Ministry simultaneously added five Proekt journalists, including editor-in-chief Roman Badanin, to its “foreign agents” registry. Additionally, the ministry blacklisted Open Media editor-in-chief Yulia Yarosh and her deputy editor Maxim Glikin, as well as Radio Svoboda correspondent Elizaveta Maetnaya.
In April 2021, Russia’s Justice Ministry designated Meduza as a “news agency foreign agent,” following a formal complaint by Alexander Ionov, a former member of Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission.
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Translation by Kevin Rothrock