Russia puts Putin’s ex-speechwriter on wanted list over Ukraine
Abbas Gallyamov wrote speeches for Vladimir Putin during the Russian leader’s 2008-12 time as prime minister.
Police in Russia have placed a former speechwriter for President Vladimir Putin on a wanted list of criminal suspects because of his comments on the war in Ukraine, the latest step in Moscow’s sweeping crackdown on dissent.
Abbas Gallyamov wrote speeches for Putin during the Russian leader’s 2008-12 stint as prime minister. Gallyamov, 50, later became an outspoken political consultant and analyst who was frequently quoted by Russian and foreign media. He has lived abroad in recent years.
On Friday, Russian and international news outlets discovered that Gallyamov had been listed in the Interior Ministry’s database. The entry said he was wanted “in relation to a Criminal Code article” but did not include the law he was accused of breaking.
Russia’s Justice Ministry added Gallyamov last month to its register of foreign agents, a designation that brings additional government scrutiny and carries strong pejorative connotations aimed at undermining the recipient’s credibility.
The ministry said Gallyamov “distributed materials created by foreign agents to an unlimited circle of people, spoke out against the special military operation in Ukraine, (and) participated as an expert and respondent on information platforms provided by foreign structures”.
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs has put Abbas Gallyamov, a former Putin speechwriter and political scientist who now resides outside of Russia, on the federal “wanted” list. https://t.co/EJmpR2BdG3
— Meduza in English (@meduza_en) March 24, 2023
Gallyamov had recently given an interview in which he predicted that an uprising in Russia was possible over its war against Ukraine, and reflected on his time as Putin’s speech writer, saying few could have predicted “that Russia would turn into some kind of fascist state, as it is now”.
Gallyamov told the Associated Press on Friday that he learned he was on a wanted list from the media. No law enforcement agency has been in touch, so he does not know what charge he faces in Russia.
“I presume that formally it’s the offence of discrediting the army,” Gallyamov said in a phone interview.
“It is being used against anyone who refuses to amplify the Kremlin’s playbook and tries to conduct an objective, impartial analysis of what’s going on,” he said.
Discrediting the Russian armed forces became a crime in Russia under a new law adopted after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022. Kremlin critics have been regularly charged under the law.
Gallyamov described the move against him as part of the Russian government’s “intimidation strategy”.
“It’s not an attempt to get to me – it is impossible. It’s a message for the rest,” he said.
“As in, ‘Don’t criticise, don’t think that your independent view of what’s happening will remain unpunished’.”