Vladimir Putin’s critics: dead, imprisoned, exiled

Vladimir Putin’s critics: dead, imprisoned, exiled


Opposition politician Ilya Yashin, on trial in Moscow on Wednesday, is in danger of becoming the last in a long line of Kremlin critics who have been handed hefty prison sentences.

Others were killed or narrowly escaped death, while still others went into exile.

Here is a list of Putin’s most prominent critics.

– dead –

Boris Nemtsov, a Kremlin critic and former deputy prime minister, was shot dead in 2015 while walking home across a Moscow bridge near the Kremlin.

Five Chechen men were found guilty of Nemtsov’s murder, but the mastermind behind the murder was never found.

Nemtsov’s allies have blamed both the Kremlin and Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has denied the allegation.

The charismatic speaker sharply criticized Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and regularly took part in opposition protests.

At the time of his death he was 55 years old.

In 2006, the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in front of her home in Moscow shook the world.

Politkovskaya, a reporter for Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s leading independent newspaper, has been a fierce critic of the Kremlin’s tactics in Chechnya.

The newspaper’s editor, Dmitry Muratov, dedicated this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Politkovskaya and other Russian journalists who were killed for their work.

Other critics of Putin narrowly escaped death.

– Locked up –

Russia’s main opposition politician Alexei Navalny was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-made nerve agent, while on a trip to Siberia in 2020.

He received treatment in Germany and returned to Russia in January 2021, where he was arrested upon landing at a Moscow airport.

The 46-year-old is serving a nine-year sentence for embezzlement, which his supporters say was punishment for challenging the Kremlin.

Navalny has condemned Putin’s Ukraine offensive from prison, calling it a “tragedy” and a “crime against my country”.

Vladimir Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was arrested in April for spreading “false” information about the Russian army.

He was later charged with treason and faces up to 20 years in prison.

Kara-Murza, 41, says he was poisoned twice.

Yevgeny Rosman, the former mayor of Yekaterinburg, was arrested in August for criticizing Russia’s attack on Ukraine.

After his arrest sparked protests, the 60-year-old opposition politician was released while awaiting trial on charges of “discrediting” the Russian army.

– banished –

Some of Putin’s high-profile critics have lived abroad for years, like former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison after challenging the Russian leader early in his rule.

Khodorkovsky lives in London and finances media projects critical of the Kremlin.

Many of Navalny’s prominent allies fled Russia after his organizations were banned as “extremist” last year.

But the decision to send troops to Ukraine, which led to an unprecedented domestic crackdown, proved to be the last nail in the coffin for the Russian opposition movement.

Russians opposed to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine are now scattered across the world, and many are fleeing to Europe and Israel.

TV presenter and entertainer Maxim Galkin, husband of Russian pop icon Alla Pugacheva, has become an unlikely leading voice on social media against the Ukraine offensive.

The 46-year-old show star, who lives in Israel, regularly denounces the Russian army’s offensive on Instagram.

– Foreign Agents –

Despite a rare intervention by Pugacheva – widely considered untouchable – Galkin was branded a “foreign agent”.

The label, which has Stalin-era connotations, was used by authorities to pressure critics.

Putin recently tightened the draconian “foreign agents” law of 2012.

Many journalists and Russia’s main independent media outlets have been slapped with the label, making it much more difficult to operate.

All major independent media organizations in Russia have been closed or shut down.

Other popular figures who have spoken out against Moscow’s Ukraine offensive — such as wildly popular rappers Oxxxymiron and Noize MC, and exiled sci-fi writer Dmitri Glukhovsky — have also been labeled “foreign agents.”

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