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Vladimir Putin’s critics: dead, jailed, exiled

Kremlin says Russia in a 'state of war' in Ukraine
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Russian opposition politician Vladimir Kara-Murza, who was on Monday jailed for 25 years over criticism of the Ukraine offensive, is the latest in a long line of Kremlin critics slapped with heavy jail terms.

Others have been killed, narrowly escaped death or been exiled. Here are President Vladimir Putin’s best-known critics and where they are now:


Boris Nemtsov, a Kremlin critic and a former deputy prime minister, was shot dead in 2015 as he walked home across a Moscow bridge near the Kremlin.

Five Chechen men were convicted of killing Nemtsov but the mastermind of the murder was never found.

Nemtsov’s allies have pointed the finger at the Kremlin and at Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has denied the accusation.

Nemtsov, a charismatic speaker, had criticised Putin’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and regularly taken part in opposition protests. He was 55 at the time of his death.

Nearly a decade earlier, in 2006, the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya outside her Moscow home shocked the world.

Politkovskaya, a reporter at Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s top independent newspaper, was a fierce critic of Kremlin’s tactics in Chechnya.

The newspaper’s editor, Dmitry Muratov, dedicated his 2021 Nobel Peace Prize to Politkovskaya and other Russian journalists killed for their work.


Russia’s main opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-made nerve agent, on a trip to Siberia in 2020.

He underwent treatment in Germany and returned to Russia in January 2021, where he was arrested on landing at a Moscow airport.

The 46-year-old is serving a nine-year sentence on embezzlement charges that his supporters call punishment for challenging the Kremlin.

From prison, Navalny has denounced Putin’s Ukraine offensive, calling it a “tragedy” and a “crime against my country.”

Vladimir Kara-Murza, an opposition politician, was given the harshest sentence so far over comments critical of the Kremlin and the offensive.

The 41-year-old was handed 25 years in jail on charges of treason, spreading “false” information about the Russian army and being affiliated with an “undesirable organisation”.

He suffers from serious health problems which his lawyers say was due to two poisoning attempts in 2015 and 2017.

In December 2022, opposition politician Ilya Yashin was jailed for eight and a half years for spreading “false” information about the Russian army, under legislation criminalising criticism of the Ukraine offensive.

In August last year, Yevgeny Roizman, the former mayor of the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, was detained for his criticism of Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

After his arrest sparked protests, the 60-year-old opposition politician was released from custody to await trial on charges of “discrediting” the Russian army.


Some of Putin’s high-profile critics have been abroad for years.

They include former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who spent a decade in prison after challenging the Russian leader early in his rule.

Khodorkovsky lives in London and has financed media projects critical of the Kremlin.

Many of Navalny’s prominent allies fled Russia after his organisations were banned as “extremist”.

But the decision in February last year to send troops into Ukraine, which ushered in an unprecedented crackdown at home, proved to be a final nail in the coffin for Russia’s opposition movement.

Russians opposed to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine are now scattered around the world. Many have fled to Europe and Israel.

TV presenter and entertainer Maxim Galkin, the husband of Russian pop icon Alla Pugacheva, has become an unlikely leading voice against the Ukraine offensive on social media.

Based in Israel, the 46-year-old show star regularly uses Instagram to denounce the Russian army’s offensive.

‘Foreign agents’

Despite a rare intervention by Pugacheva — who is widely considered untouchable — Galkin has been branded a “foreign agent”.

The epithet, which has Stalinist-era overtones, has been used by authorities to mount administrative pressure on critics.

Putin recently toughened the draconian 2012 “foreign agent” law.

Many journalists and Russia’s main independent media outlets have been branded “foreign agents“, making it much harder to operate.

All main independent media organisations in Russia have been shut down or suspended operations.

Other popular figures who have spoken out against Moscow’s Ukraine offensive — such as the hugely popular rappers Oxxxymiron and Noize MC, and exiled science fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky — have also been labelled “foreign agents”.



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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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