Russia Adds Author Boris Akunin to a Register of Extremists and Opens a Criminal Case against Him

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A Russian national flag

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian authorities on Monday added popular detective novelist and dissident Grigory Chkhartishvili – known under the pen name Boris Akunin – to its register of “extremists and terrorists.”

On the same day that Russia’s financial watchdog, Rosfinmonitoring, added the Russian-Georgian writer to the register, state media reported that a criminal case had been opened against Akunin for “discrediting the army” — specifically for “justifying terrorism” and spreading “fake news” about the Russian military.

Discrediting the Russian military is a criminal offense under a law adopted after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022. The law is regularly used against Kremlin critics.

Akunin’s placement on the register comes after one of Russia’s leading publishers, AST, last week announced that it was suspending the printing and sale of books by Akunin and another popular author, Dmitry Bykov, following their criticism of Russia’s military action in Ukraine.

Earlier in December, two pro-Kremlin pranksters, known as Vovan and Lexus, released the recording of a call in which they posed as Ukrainian officials and the writers expressed support for Ukraine.

In an article on his website, Akunin gave his reaction to the charges.

“A seemingly minor event, the banning of books, the declaration of some writer as a terrorist, is actually an important milestone,” he wrote. “Books have not been banned in Russia since Soviet times. Writers have not been accused of terrorism since the Great Terror.”

“This is not a bad dream, this is happening to Russia in reality” said Akunin, 67, who lives in London.