Two exiled critics of Vladimir Putin, ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov and former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, were declared “foreign agents” by the Russian government on Friday, according to the Justice Ministry in Moscow.
This designation, which harps back to the “enemies of the people” label common in the Soviet era, is used massively against political opponents, journalists and human rights activists accused of carrying out political activities financed from abroad, Belga News Agency reports.
“Foreign agents” are subjected to many constraints and burdensome procedures, on pain of heavy sanctions. Among other things, they need to indicate this status on all their publications.
In an updated list of “foreign agents” posted on its Internet site on Friday, Russia’s Justice Ministry said Khodorkovsky (58) and Kasparov (59) have “sources” in Ukraine that finance their activities.
The former world chess champion, a long-time Putin critic, has been living in exile in the United States for the past ten years.
Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for his part, was one of the most powerful businessmen in Russia in the 1990s before joining the opposition to the Kremlin when Putin came to power in 2000. He spent 10 years in prison, from 2003 to 2013, and has been living in exile since then.
For years, he financed the Open Russia opposition organization, which disbanded in May 2021 in the face of increasing repression.