Russia on Friday added two high-profile Kremlin critics to its list of “foreign agents”: former chess champion Garry Kasparov and former tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The infamous label, reminiscent of Soviet-era “enemies of the people”, is widely used against opponents, journalists and human rights activists accused of carrying out foreign-funded political activities.
These “foreign agents” are subject to numerous constraints and laborious procedures, under penalty of severe sanctions. In particular, they must indicate this status in all their publications.
In its updated list of websites, Russia’s Justice Ministry said Khodorkovsky, 58, and Kasparov, 59, had “sources” in Ukraine to fund their activities.
Kasparov, a Soviet-born former world chess champion, is a longtime opponent of President Vladimir Putin and has lived in the United States for nearly a decade.
Khodorkovsky was one of Russia’s most powerful businessmen in the 1990s, before coming into conflict with the Kremlin when Putin came to power in 2000.
He spent 10 years, from 2003 to 2013, in prison and then went into exile.
For years he helped fund the Russian opposition organization Open Russia, which disbanded in May last year in the face of mounting repression.
Since the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine on February 24, dozens of Russian intellectual elites and journalists have left the country, as authorities step up pressure against the latest critical voices and media.