Russia designates author Boris Akunin ‘terrorist and extremist’

The popular novelist has criticised Russia’s war on Ukraine and previously called Vladimir Putin a ‘deranged dictator’.

Boris Akunin, wearing a white flower, marches with a crowd in Moscow
Russian author Boris Akunin, centre, speaks to a crowd during a writers march lead by opposition literary activists in Moscow on May 13, 2012 [File: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters]

The Russian government has added the popular author Grigory Chkhartishvili – known by his pen name Boris Akunin – to a register of “terrorists and extremists” for his critical stance towards Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rosfinmonitoring, Russia’s main financial intelligence body, announced that the detective novelist had been added to the registry on Monday.

The 67-year-old is known for his historical detective novels and his longstanding criticism of President Vladimir Putin.

“Terrorists declared me a terrorist,” Akunin, who lives in exile in London, wrote on Facebook.

Separately, Russia’s Investigative Committee said it had opened a case against the Russian-Georgian author for allegedly “justifying terrorism and publicly spreading fake information” about the military.

Russia adopted a law criminalising comments that discredit the armed forces following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The Kremlin has since wielded those powers to crack down on critics.

On the day Putin sent Russian troops into Ukraine, Akunin wrote on Facebook that the Russian leader was a “psychologically deranged dictator”.

Speaking with Al Jazeera in March 2022, Akunin said that, even before the invasion of Ukraine, Putin had been “very methodically killing all the branches of democracy” in Russia.

“We see what it has brought us to eventually: Russia, Ukraine, and now the whole world is seriously discussing the possibility of nuclear war in the 21st century,” he said. “This is all Putin’s doing.”

One of Russia’s best-known publishing houses, AST, announced last week that it would no longer print or sell works by Akunin or Dmitry Bykov, another author critical of the war in Ukraine.

The decision by AST followed the release of a prank call from the Russian prankster duo known as Vovan and Lexus, who spoke with the two authors posing as Ukrainian officials.

Bykov told the duo that while he was saddened by the killing of Russian soldiers in the conflict, this was not something he blamed on Ukrainian officials.

For his part, Akunin described Russia as a global threat and said that he was not bothered by Ukrainian drone attacks on Russian cities.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies