Murmansk news editor after FSB raid: "If I leave, who will tell people the truth?"

“As long as I am alive, as long as I am able to do something, as long as the situation is as it is — I will stay here,” Gorodetsky says in an interview with the Russian version of the Barents Observer.

“If I leave, who will then tell people the truth?” the experienced journalist adds.

On the 11th of June, six officers – two of them with masks – made their way into the editorial office of the small online newspaper in Murmansk. They were armed and openly threatened the news editor.

“One of the masked men came up to me, looked me into the eyes and said that if I resist, they had an order to shoot,” Gorodetsky says.

Following a comprehensive search of the newsroom, the editor was taken to the local FSB headquarter.

In a comment in his own newspaper, Gorodetsky calls the raid “a masquerade.”  

Vyacheslav Gorodetsky has been newspaper editor in Murmansk for two decades. In 2005, he founded the B-Port, a news agency that soon developed into a leading newsmaker in the north Russian region. In 2020, he resigned following what he described as “growing censorship from regional authorities.”

«The situation is such that our news arena is rapidly changing, and not in a good direction,» Gorodetsky said at the time.

Later that same year, he established the Arktichesky Obozrevatel, a small two-person newsroom.

It is not that first time that repressive law enforcement authorities take action against Gorodetsky and the Arktichesky Obozrevatel. In April 2023, police conducted a search in the news desk following a request from an official in the regional government. A criminal case followed.

The news editor was not surprised that the FSB agents again made their way into his office, but he did not expect the timing.

“We assumed that this could happen in the run-up to the presidential election. […] Back then, it could be explained, but I do not know why it happened now,” he says.

The FSB reportedly accuses Gorodetsky of collecting ‘secret’ information about issues of national security. But the editor strongly refuses that his media assembles information relating to the war.

“We have never done anything like that. I do ask many questions in press conferences. But it is not right that I publish this information, because I perfectly well understand the risks. But I ask questions, unpleasant questions,” Gorodetsky says.