Opposition activist found dead in Moscow apartment


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The cause of the death of a well-known Russian actor and vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin remained unknown yesterday after he was found dead at his home in Moscow.

The body of Alexei Devotchenko was reportedly discovered in his apartment on Wednesday night.

Even the circumstances of his death remained unclear yesterday. Some Russian news outlets said he was discovered in a pool of blood in his apartment. The online tabloid Lifenews reported that Mr Devotchenko died of blood loss after sustaining severe cuts. It said empty bottles of whiskey and packets of phenazepam, a legal Russian drug prescribed to treat epilepsy, were discovered near his body.

Meanwhile, one police source reportedly told Russian news agencies: “There is reason to suppose that the artist’s death is of a criminal character.”

Mr Devotchenko was a renowned actor who appeared in popular television dramas and on the stage at the prestigious Moscow Art Theatre. He performed in King Lear in London in 2006. He was also a prominent opposition activist and took part in a series of anti-Kremlin protests over the last decade. The 49-year-old renounced two state-awarded prizes in 2011, saying he was “ashamed” to have received them “from Putin’s hands”.

He wrote at the time: “I’ve had enough of all this tsar-state stuff, with its lies, its cover-ups, its legalised theft, its bribe-taking and its other triumphs.”

Mr Devotchenko was critical of Russian military intervention in Ukraine and signed an open letter from Russian actors condemning the Kremlin’s actions in March. Police said the scene was being investigated. A source told the Interfax news agency that he may have died after injuring himself while drunk.