The Security Service of Ukraine (“SBU”) has published a press release detailing the suspicions against the popular Russian blogger Artemy Lebedev.
Lebedev, a designer by trade, is the son of the Russian writer Tatyana Tolstaya and a member of the Tolstoy literary dynasty. The Ukrainian authorities are accusing him of collaborating with the enemy and justifying Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine.
According to the SBU, in June 2022 Lebedev trespassed on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant grounds to produce a propaganda piece for his half-a-million subscribers. Lebedev did publish a reportage about his trip, which also included stops in the occupied Donetsk and Mariupol.
The blogger qualified his unauthorized visit to the NPP as one of life’s “little pleasures”:
I like to travel and to visit rare and interesting places. I also have another weakness: I like to shit on the authorities. Here, we have a super-combo: entering an NPP, which is never easy, plus doing it in Ukraine, whence I’ve been banned by Zelensky’s personal decree for another five years, starting this January! Little pleasures like this is what a full, happy life is made of.
Ukraine looks at the matter differently. In March 2017, Lebedev was banned from entering the country for activities officially qualified as “directed at harming” Ukraine’s “national interests in the sphere of information security.” In January 2022, Lebedev came under Ukraine’s personal sanctions.
In addition to the propaganda charges, the SBU accuses Lebedev of collaborationism, based on his interactions with the Zaporizhzhia NPP’s Russian-appointed director, Yury Chernichuk.