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Suspects in alleged "assassination attempt" on Kremlin propagandist and TV presenter are arrested amid claims they were tortured

Saturday, 15 July 2023, 19:51
Suspects in alleged assassination attempt on Kremlin propagandist and TV presenter are arrested amid claims they were tortured

Moscow's Basmanny Court has ordered the arrest of seven members of nationalist organisations who are allegedly suspected of attempting to assassinate well-known propagandist Margarita Simonyan and TV presenter Ksenia Sobchak. Supporters of the detainees are claiming that they have been tortured.

Source: Kremlin-aligned news agency TASS, citing the court's press service; Mediazona; The Insider

Details: The seven suspects in the case of the attempted assassinations of Simonyan and Sobchak have reportedly been charged with hooliganism.


Mediazona, citing the court’s press service, reports that four of the detainees are minors aged 16 and 17, while another was a minor "at the time of the offence". The other two detainees are Mikhail Balashov, 18, and Yegor Savelyev, 22.

Meanwhile, The Insider is reporting that the detainees, members of the neo-Nazi association NS/WP, who are accused of plotting an assassination attempt on Simonyan and Sobchak, were tortured into confessing to preparing acts of terrorism, interacting with other members of the NS/WP Crew and having ties to Ukraine. A representative of NS/WP spoke to the media outlet about this.

"They were tortured by electrocution and strangled, and one of them (allegedly) had his arm broken," the source said. He named two of the detainees as Yegor Savelyev and Sergey Korolenkov.

A video of an interrogation of another detainee has been published by the Kremlin-aligned news agency RT. A man who introduces himself as Mikhail Balashov claims he set up a "neo-Nazi group" and then received an order to assassinate Sobchak and Simonyan from the Ukrainian special services. Reports indicate that the case also involves detainees with the surnames Novik, Zakharov, Gusev and Emelyanov.

The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) says the detainees are members of a group known as Paragraph 88, but a source told The Insider that the organisation was short-lived and had disbanded.

The source called the accusations that an assassination attempt on Simonyan and Sobchak was being prepared "a lie spread by the Chekists". [The Cheka, the first of a succession of Soviet secret police organisations, was involved in mass terror – ed.]

Mikhail Balashov, 18, left school last year, the news agency Vazhnyye Istorii (Important Stories) found out. Yegor Savelyev is 22. In 2018, he was detained in a case of attempted murder. It was reported at the time that he was "the victim of a provocation by the Tula branch of the FSB, which was trying to increase its detection rate". He was later accused of publicly calling for extremism.

Background: The Russian FSB has claimed that it prevented an assassination attempt on Margarita Simonyan and Ksenia Sobchak by the Ukrainian secret services.

The detainees told the FSB that they had supposedly planned the assassination attempts "on the instructions of the Security Service of Ukraine" in exchange for a reward of RUB 1.5 million [roughly US$16,000] for each murder.

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