Investigators Raid Home of Director Shooting Opposition Documentary

Investigators Raid Home of Director Shooting Opposition Documentary

Published: December 7, 2012 (Issue # 1738)


Kostomarov, 37, is currently shooting a political documentary series called “Srok” (The Term) with fellow director Alexander Rastorguyev and NTV journalist Alexei Pivovarov that features dozens of interviews with opposition leaders.

MOSCOW — Law enforcement officials Friday morning raided the flat of a director filming an ongoing documentary series about the lives of opposition leaders.

The news first broke on social networks, where Pavel Kostomarov’s colleagues drew attention to the search of his apartment.

“There is a search going on in Pavel Kostomarov’s flat. The originals for the ‘Srok’ project are kept in his flat,” Vitaly Mansky, a fellow director, wrote on Facebook.

Kostomarov, 37, is currently shooting a political documentary series called “Srok” (The Term) with fellow director Alexander Rastorguyev and NTV journalist Alexei Pivovarov that features dozens of interviews with opposition leaders.

There are more than 1,100 episodes in the series so far, many of which are no more than a few minutes long, and the directors have said that they ultimately aim to make a full-length film with the material they have gathered.

Friday’s raid comes on the same day that NTV’s Pivovarov interviewed Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev during a live TV question-and-answer session with other journalists broadcast on five state-run channels at noon.

Pivovarov told RIA-Novosti that investigators’ actions would likely delay the release of the documentary.

Explaining the early-morning raid, investigators linked the searches to the ongoing criminal case against protesters charged over clashes with police at a May 6 protest on Bolotnaya Ploshchad and said Kostomarov was being treated as a witness.

Kostomarov later confirmed to Kommersant-FM radio that he had been summoned to the Investigative Committee’s headquarters for questioning Monday and that he had been forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

The first episode of “Srok,” which was posted on YouTube on May 21, was dedicated to the life of anti-corruption lawyer Alexei Navalny and featured scenes in which the opposition figurehead was detained during the May 6 rally.

In the wake of the protest, at which more than 400 people were detained, authorities have implicated at least 17 demonstrators — most of whom are still awaiting trial — in what Kremlin critics have painted as a crackdown on dissent.

Speaking hours after Friday’s raid, fellow director Mansky criticized authorities for “showing not the slightest respect for property rights, for an artist or for material filmed without government money.”

“We know what usually happens next — arrest, torture and what 1937 already taught us,” Mansky told Interfax, referring to the Great Terror under Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov, whom Kostomarov interviewed for the “Srok” project, described the raids as an attempt to apply pressure on the opposition on the eve of an anti-Kremlin rally planned for Dec. 15.

“When searches start at journalists’ homes, the authorities cross a sort of border. This is an element of pressure, intimidation,” Udaltsov told Interfax.

“We can expect other such surprises in the buildup to Dec. 15,” he said.

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