Ilya Yashin was jailed for criticising Russia's military operation in Ukraine
Moscow (AFP) - Opposition politician Ilya Yashin, who was jailed for more than eight years on Friday for criticising Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, 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 Putin’s best-known critics and where they are now:
- Dead -
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.
Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in 2015 after criticising the annexation of Crimea
Five Chechen men were convicted of killing Nemtsov but the mastermind of the murder was never found.
Nemtsov’s allies have pointed the finger of blame 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 the Kremlin’s tactics in Chechnya.
The newspaper’s editor, Dmitry Muratov, dedicated his Nobel Peace Prize this year to Politkovskaya and other Russian journalists killed for their work.
- Jailed -
Russia’s main opposition politician, Alexei Navalny, was poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-made nerve agent, on a trip to Siberia in 2020.
From prison, Alexei Navalny has denounced Putin's Ukraine offensive as a 'tragedy'
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 arrested in April for spreading “fake” information about the Russian army.
He was later charged with high treason and faces up to 20 years in prison. Kara-Murza, 41, says he has been poisoned twice.
In August, Yevgeny Roizman, the former mayor 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.
- Exiled -
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.
Putin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky spent a decade in prison and now lives in exile
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” last year.
But the decision in February 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”.
Science fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky insists he will continue to speak out against Moscow
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 hugely popular rappers Oxxxymiron and Noize MC, and exiled science fiction writer Dmitry Glukhovsky – have also been labelled “foreign agents”.