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Russia designates author ‘foreign agent’


Russia has designated Boris Akunin, one of the country’s most popular novelists, a foreign agent.

Mr Akunin was added to a register of “terrorists and extremists” by Russia’s justice ministry over his objections to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The 67-year-old is well-known for his longstanding criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

Prior to the war, Mr Akunin’s detective novels were best-sellers in Russia, until authorities banned his books.

The justice ministry said in a statement that Mr Akunin – whose real name is Grigory Chkhartishvili – “opposed the special military operation in Ukraine”.

The ministry added that Mr Akunin had “disseminated false information aimed at creating a negative image” of Russia and its army.

It also accused him of helping to raise funds to support the Ukrainian military.

On the day Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Mr Akunin wrote: “Russia is ruled by a psychologically deranged dictator and worst of all, it obediently follows his paranoia.”

Responding to the justice ministry’s announcement late on Friday, Mr Akunin – who lives in London – wrote: “Terrorists declared me a terrorist”.

The “foreign agent” label, which is reminiscent of the term “enemies of the people” of the Soviet era, requires those who are branded “foreign agents” to identify themselves as such on social media and other publications. It also puts burdensome financial reporting requirements on them.

Many Russian cultural figures have fled the country since Moscow began its military campaign against Ukraine. Those who stayed face strict censorship laws.

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