A police officer in the Russian city of Samara has been placed under house arrest on suspicion of leaking data that may have helped the Bellingcat investigative group identify the alleged poisoners of Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny, the RBC business daily reports, citing its sources.
Police officer Kirill Chuprov was detained in December and charged with abuse of power, according to an RBC report from January 19.
Chuprov, who may face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, is accused of leaking confidential information from a database containing information about the movement of people across Russia to a third party, according to the RBC source, who is said to be close to the investigation, said.
The leaked data was later used by investigative journalists who studied flights taken by agents of Russian’s Federal Security Service (FSB) who allegedly secretly followed Navalny for several years before he was poisoned with the Novichok nerve agent in Siberia in August last year.
Bellingcat, a British-based open-source investigative group, and Russian media outlet The Insider published the investigation in December in cooperation with Der Spiegel and CNN.
Citing “voluminous evidence in the form of telecoms and travel data,” the investigation, showed the August 2020 poisoning of the Kremlin critic appeared to have been in the works since at least early 2017.
The European Union and Britain have imposed asset freezes and travel bans against six senior Russian officials believed to be responsible for the Navalny poisoning, as well as one entity involved in the program that has produced a group of military-grade nerve agents known as Novichok.
Navalny, who was transported from Siberia to Germany for treatment after the incident, returned to Moscow on January 17. He was immediately arrested and sent to a pretrial detention center.
On February 2, a court is expected to decide whether to convert into jail time a suspended 3 1/2 year sentence, which Navalny served in an embezzlement case that he says was trumped up.