Russian author Boris Akunin designated a ‘foreign agent’

The best-selling novelist has been vocal about his opposition to the invasion of Ukraine

Holly Evans
Saturday 13 January 2024 23:31 GMT
Novelist Boris Akunin has been designated a foreign agent
Novelist Boris Akunin has been designated a foreign agent (AFP via Getty Images)

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One of Russia’s most popular novelists has been designated a foreign agent over his objections to the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Boris Akunin, who was once a best-selling author in Russia, has been added to a register of “terrorists and extremists” by the justice ministry.

Books by Mr Akunin, whose real name is Grigori Chkhartishvili, had already been removed from book shelves after voicing his opposition to president Vladimir Putin.

In a statement, the justice ministry said that Mr Akunin had “opposed the special military operation in Ukraine” and accused him of helping to raise funds to support the Ukrainian military.

He has been a vocal opponent of the war in Ukraine
He has been a vocal opponent of the war in Ukraine (REUTERS)

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

Making light of the announcement, he said on social media: “They are writing that I have been declared a foreign agent today. Me, a terrorist and extremist?! I feel like Bin Laden who has been given a ticket for parking illegally.”

Mr Akunin, who lives in London, added: “Terrorists declared me a terrorist”.

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.”

The “foreign agent” label, which is reminiscent of the term “enemies of the people” of the Soviet era, and 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 while those who stayed face strict censorship laws.

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