Russian police raided the homes of two prominent independent investigative journalists Tuesday in what the reporters are calling an act of retribution, a year after their outlet ran a report revealing that President Vladimir Putin likely had a secret daughter out of wedlock. Roman Badanin, the editor of the investigative outlet Proekt, and one of his reporters, Maria Zholobova, had their homes searched after the outlet teased a report about Russia’s interior minister and his financial holdings. Badanin’s deputy, Mikhail Rubin, also had his parents’ home searched, with authorities returning him there for questioning. Authorities claimed the searches into Badanin and Zholobova were tied to a 2017 defamation case regarding a story the two published, though Russian lawyer and human-rights activist Pavel Chikov said on Twitter that the statute of limitations in the case expired in 2019.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin didn’t know why the raids were conducted, but he blasted the idea that it was a form of retaliation. “Legal grounds for such actions exist,” he said to journalists, according to the Associated Press. The report about the Russian interior minister was published shortly after the raids started.