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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Russia Launches Criminal Probes of Prominent Kremlin Critics

Russia Launches Criminal Probes of Prominent Kremlin Critics – On Monday, Russian authorities announced parallel criminal investigations into a well-known actor who criticized the war in Ukraine and a philanthropist who supports the Russian opposition, the latest in a months-long assault on dissent. The Investigative Committee of Russia stated in a statement that its head, Alexander Bastrykin, had ordered the opening of a criminal investigation against Artur Smolyaninov, a Russian film and theater actor who left the country after Moscow’s forces invaded Ukraine and repeatedly spoke out against the conflict.

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Smolyaninov made a series of statements against Russia in an interview with a Western media outlet, according to the statement. The Investigative Committee did not specify which of Smolyaninov’s activities constituted a crime or what accusations will be brought against him. Last week’s interview with Smolyaninov caused indignation among Kremlin supporters.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for the Kremlin, supported an investigation into Smolyaninov on Monday, stating that it is “important that our relevant law enforcement bodies think about these remarks.” The probe against Smolyaninov comes amid increasingly harsh rhetoric about Russians who left the country because of the war. Lawmakers have suggested seizing the property of those who moved abroad or increasing taxes on those who continue to work remotely for Russian companies. Others have simply condemned them as “traitors.”

Separately, Russia’s Interior Ministry placed prominent philanthropist Boris Zimin on an international most wanted list on fraud charges, officials said Monday. Zimin has funded several Russian independent media outlets as well as projects on imprisoned opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Zimin, who reportedly left Russia in 2015, was placed on Russia’s register of people considered as “foreign agents” in September.


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