December 25, 2023

A Very Famous Terrorist


A Very Famous Terrorist
Boris Akunin in 2013. Andrei Strunin

Russian author Boris Akunin, widely acclaimed for his detective novels, now finds himself entangled in legal troubles. Russia's Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal case against Akunin, accusing him of "justifying terrorism" and "disseminating fakes" about the Armed Forces. Concurrently, Rosfinmonitoring has added Akunin to its list of "terrorists and extremists."

The source of the alleged transgressions is unclear. According to independent outlet Meduza, Akunin's charges may be linked to statements he made during a conversation with pranksters Vovan and Lexus. The pranksters posed as calling on behalf of Alexander Tkachenko, Ukraine's former Minister of Culture. In the taped conversation, Akunin expressed a willingness to help Kiev.

Following the conversation, Akunin faced repercussions. AST, a major publishing house in Russia, announced the suspension of Akunin's books. The bookstore chain Chitay-Gorod-Bukvoed and the e-book service Litres halted the sale of Akunin's previously published works. Subsequently, following Akunin's classification as a terrorist and extremist, the police conducted searches at Zakharov Publishing House, which continued to publish his books.

Additionally, Novy Mir, one of the Russia's oldest literary magazines, removed two of Akunin's plays from its website, and the Moskovsky Gubernsky Theater canceled showings of the play "Priklyucheniya Fandorina" ("The Adventures of Fandorin"), based on Akunin's works.

In response to the accusations, Akunin, who has expressed anti-war and anti-Putin stances since 2014, pointed out that books have not been banned in Russia since Soviet times, and writers have not face accusations of terrorism since the time of the Stalin Terror.

Amnesty International condemned Akunin's persecution, asserting that baseless criminal investigations into his statements showcase the Russian government's vindictiveness against dissenters. Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, criticized the Russian government for suppressing dissent.

Over the past few years, Akunin has consistently ranked among the top 20 most-published authors in Russia, with his books being printed in the millions. His latest novel, Yama ("The Pit"), published in May 2023, landed in 42nd place among the top 50 most popular books in Russia.

Akunin has lived in London since 2014.

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