Russian authorities have initiated criminal proceedings after The Washington Examiner, a D.C.-based magazine and website, published an article urging Ukraine to bomb Russia’s newly opened bridge to Crimea.
Washington Examiner editorial director Hugo Gurdon and columnist Tom Rogan are both being criminally investigated in connection with the article, “Ukraine Should Blow Up Putin’s Crimea Bridge,” a spokeswoman for Russia’s Investigative Committee said Friday.
The article was written by Mr. Rogan, 32, and published on the Examiner’s website Tuesday, the same day Russian President Vladimir Putin personally oversaw the opening of a controversial 12-mile bridge connecting the country’s mainland with Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea annexed from Ukraine in early 2014.
“Ukraine has the means to launch air strikes against the bridge in a manner that would render it at least temporarily unusable,” Mr. Rogan wrote in the article.
“Bombing the bridge,” he added, “would thus be a very personal rebuke to Putin’s ambitions and his propaganda narrative.”
Russia’s Investigative Committee announced Thursday that it had opened a criminal case against Mr. Rogan, and the committee confirmed Friday that its probe had been widened to encompass the Examiner’s editorial director as well.
“According to the investigators, Gurdon had negotiated the approval and published Tom Rogan’s article on the Washington Examiner’s website, calling for blowing up the Crimean Bridge by carrying out bomb attacks,” said Svetlana Petrenko, the committee’s spokeswoman.
Investigators believe the article’s publication violates Russia’s law against publicly calling for terrorist activities on the territory of the Russian Federation, Ms. Petrenko said.
“In the actions of Hugo Gurdon, propaganda of terrorism is seen,” she said in a statement.
In an editorial, The Washington Examiner described Russia’s response to the article as “wacky.”
“Our writers don’t normally advocate destruction of bridges, but then again, most bridges aren’t built as part of an illegal armed invasion of another sovereign nation,” the editorial said. “Crimea is rightly Ukrainian. Russia controls it through illegal force, and this bridge is an effort to cement that control.
“In America, the right to express that opinion to whomever we want is protected,” the editorial said.