Why Did the Kremlin Expel Natalia Morar?

morar1217.jpgIf I put my mind to it, I could easily draw up quite a long list of reporters and activists in Russia whom the siloviki would prefer to see exiled from the country, or worse (not to give anyone ideas…). So why, out of everyone, has the Kremlin decided to exile reporter Natalia Morar of the New Times? After all, even though the investigative articles offer great information, it is not a high circulation magazine nor all that influential. It seems that Morar, talented muckraker that she is, was into so many different stories that it is hard to tell which one triggered this harsh reaction…

Was it just about money? Morar was one of the key reporters from the New Times to break open the story about alleged money laundering involving Austria’s Raiffeisen bank and the Russian government, and the possible motives behind the murder of central banker Andrei Kozlov (who was killed just five days after revoking the license from Diskont bank). See our earlier blog piece “Raiffeisen’s Ties to Murder and Corruption in Russia.”Or was it just politics? She has told some sources that she was working on a major campaign finance article entitled “The Black Till of the Kremlin” which had information about a vast illegal political slush fund used to keep several parties dependent on the central authorities.Or does her expulsion tie in to the bigger power struggle? The Wall Street Journal reported that “Ms. Morar had written extensively about alleged corruption in Russia’s security services, some of which she said had been leaking incriminating information about their rivals in a power struggle between the groups. This fall, she wrote about a corruption investigation into kickback and extortion allegations against some top officials of the FSB federal security service, the successor agency to the KGB.“I suppose that there was no shortage of motivation for the siloviki to expel her, but I can’t help but wonder what story she was working on that could have inspired such an embarrassing and ugly gesture from the government…. Let’s hope that another brave journalist at this plucky magazine can pick up where she left off.