Navalny filmmakers dedicate Bafta to ‘security risk’ journalist Christo Grozev

Journalist has not been able to enter UK for film awards after being deemed 'public security risk'

Navalny producers Melanie Miller, left, Shane Boris, centre, Diane Becker, third right, and Odessa Rae, second right, with the Baftas in London. Getty
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The filmmakers behind Navalny have dedicated winning the Bafta Best Documentary award to investigative journalist Christo Grozev.

Bulgarian Grozev, who features in the film about Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and events related to his 2020 poisoning, claimed before the ceremony he and his family were not allowed at the event because they were a “security risk”.

“We want to dedicate this award to Christo Grozev, our Bulgarian nerd with a laptop, who could not be with us tonight because his life is under threat by the Russian government and [President] Vladimir Putin," producer Odessa Rae said at the ceremony.

“I met Christo in the summer of 2020. His life is fairly private then and he gave up everything to tell the story and many other stories that need to be told.”

Grozev later tweeted: “Wow.”

The lead Russia investigator with investigative journalism group Bellingcat, he tweeted on Friday that he was surprised to be “banned” and told he represented “a public security risk”.

Grozev said it showed “growing dangers to independent journalists around the world”, not just from “murderous dictators but also from having journalists’ voices hushed”.

During the film, he explains how he and fellow journalist Maria Pevchikh revealed the details of the poisoning plot that indicated involvement from Russia.

The UK Metropolitan Police said forces generally “do not and cannot” ban people from events and this was the responsibility of organisers.

It said it could not comment on the safety of a person or advice given to them.

“However, the situation that journalists face around the world and the fact that some journalists face the hostile intentions of foreign states whilst in the UK is a reality that we are absolutely concerned with," the force said.

“We are committed to working with our intelligence partners to investigate these threats and to take other steps to ensure the safety of those concerned.

“Despite our efforts, on protective security and on investigations, we recognise the impact of those threats on those affected."

Before the ceremony, Bafta said: “The safety of all our guests and staff at the ceremony is always our highest priority, and we have robust and appropriate security arrangements in place every year.”

Tory MP and chairwoman of the foreign affairs select committee, Alicia Kearns, also tweeted earlier: “I’ve raised with ministers — you are not the security risk.”

Updated: February 07, 2024, 1:06 PM