May 24. 2024. 6:38

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Navalny documentary wins Bafta amid security row over key author


A film about dissident Russian Alexei Navalny scooped the best documentary prize at Britain’s Bafta cinema awards on Sunday (19 February), amid controversy over a key contributor being kept away from the ceremony.

Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev, a long-time Kremlin critic, tweeted “wow” after the announcement in London, after saying he had been “banned” from attending in person.

Wow. https://t.co/aFW8tAJpHE

— Christo Grozev (@christogrozev) February 19, 2023

The documentary’s producer Odessa Rae paid tribute to Grozev, who she could not be at the glitzy ceremony due to “a public security risk”.

“He gave up everything to tell this story, and other stories that need to be told,” she told the audience.

Grozev, who is lead Russia investigator with the investigative website Bellingcat and is credited with having helped reveal a plot to kill Navalny, appears in the documentary.

But on Friday he tweeted that he had been “surprised to discover that my whole family and I have all been banned by British police from attending this weekend’s Bafta awards”.

London’s Metropolitan police said only that “some journalists face the hostile intentions of foreign states whilst in the UK”. Bafta said the safety of its guests and staff was a priority.

Russia has put Grozev on its wanted list on 26 December.

Bulgarian journalist who exposed Kremlin’s crimes wanted in Moscow

Russia’s Interior Ministry placed Christo Grozev, the leading journalist with the open-source investigative journalism group Bellingcat, on its wanted list on Monday (26 December), the Russian opposition website Moscow times announced.

“The Russians are trying to kill him,” said Roher. “He’s not allowed to go to Europe any more. It’s dramatically changed his life, changed his family’s life.”

The decision to keep Grozev away was “cowardly” and “profoundly disappointing”, the Canadian director added.

Investigative journalists should not be penalised when they “expose the lies and corruption and genocidal tendencies of (Russian President) Vladimir Putin’s mafia”, he said.

Navalny, Putin’s most prominent opponent, has been held for the past two years at a maximum-security prison outside Moscow after an embezzlement conviction.

Before that, he was poisoned with the Soviet-made nerve agent Novichok on a trip to Siberia in 2020 and has accused Putin of being behind the attack.