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Media: Man throws training grenade at BBC Russian service journalists in Riga

by Elsa Court December 24, 2023 11:19 AM 2 min read
Overview of the city of Riga with Cathedral of the Nativity on June 20, 2022. (Britta Pedersen/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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An unknown attacker threw a training grenade at BBC News Russian Service journalists holding a party at a bar in central Riga on the evening of Dec. 23, according to independent Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta, citing a witness report.

The BBC News Russian Service relocated from Moscow to the Latvian capital after the start of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, along with other international bureaus such as Deutsche Welle and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The BBC Russian News Service has not yet officially reported on the attack. The Kyiv Independent has reached out for comment.

The attack reportedly occurred after 11 p.m. when the BBC journalists were among the few people left in the bar.

A witness told Novaya Gazeta that a man reportedly opened the front door and threw a training grenade into the room, stunning those inside.

No casualties were reported, and the police came to the scene, according to Novaya Gazeta.

The man then fled in a black BMW, and the journalists were able to note the car's license plate number.

"The journalists believe that the attack is related to their professional activities," Novaya Gazeta said.

The Latvian Police released a statement on Dec. 24 that two people had been detained in connection with the case, but that "the motive was a personal conflict in this bar."

"There is no indication that the incident was related to the presence of journalists there," according to the police.

Russia passed sweeping censorship laws in March 2022 that essentially criminalized any criticism of the invasion or contradiction of Russian propaganda.

Russian dictator Vladimir Putin then signed amendments to the Russian Criminal Code in March 2023 that introduced harsher punishments for "discrediting participants" of Moscow's all-out war against Ukraine.

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