Russian Court Orders Journalist To Pay Dutch Blogger In Defamation Case

A Moscow court has ordered an investigative journalist to pay 156,000 rubles ($2,155) in compensation to a Dutch blogger who he alleged had ties to Russia’s military intelligence agency.

The October 7 decision by the Cheryomushkinsky district court came just days after Russian authorities said they had issued an arrest warrant for Roman Dobrokhotov on charges of illegally crossing the border into Ukraine.

Dobrokhotov is the editor-in-chief of The Insider, a Latvia-based investigative news site that the Russian authorities have designated a “foreign agent” as part of a mounting crackdown on independent news media.

In July, just days after The Insider was labeled as a “foreign agent,” Moscow police searched Dobrokhotov’s apartment and that of his parents.

Dobrokhotov’s passport was also confiscated, but he still managed to leave the country. His wife and children remain in Moscow.

Police said at the time that the searches were part of an investigation that had been launched at the request of Dutch journalist Max van der Werff, who accused The Insider of libel.

Van der Werff sued after Dobrokhotov claimed he was cooperating with Russian military intelligence to spread alternative narratives about the 2014 shootdown of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine. All 298 people aboard the jet died, most of them Dutch.

Van der Werff is known for his articles rejecting international investigators’ conclusions that MH17 was shot down by a Buk surface-to-air missile fired from territory controlled by Moscow-backed separatists in the east of Ukraine.

Investigators say Russia provided the anti-aircraft missile launcher that shot down the plane. Russia denies involvement and has put forth several other explanations.

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