Writer Boris Akunin and online magazine Holod named ‘foreign agents’

One of Russia’s best-known writers, Boris Akunin, and the independent media outlet Holod were among those designated “foreign agents” by Russia’s Justice Ministry on Friday.

Famous for his Erast Fandorin novels, Akunin has been based in London since leaving Russia in 2014 in protest at the country’s annexation of Crimea.

Boris Akunin. Photo: Dmitry Smirnov

Boris Akunin. Photo: Dmitry Smirnov

A long-standing Putin critic, Akunin has been repeatedly targeted by the Russian authorities for his opposition to the war in Ukraine, and was added to a list of “terrorists and extremists” in December following a prank call in which he was recorded expressing his support for Ukraine.

“I, the terrorist and extremist … have been declared a foreign agent? I feel like I’m Bin Laden and I’ve just been given a parking ticket,” Akunin joked on his Telegram channel on Friday.

The Justice Ministry’s latest list of so-called “foreign agents” also included veteran Novaya Gazeta journalist Alexander Minkin, among others.

Under Russian law, books by “foreign agents” cannot be sold to minors and must be shrink-wrapped. After Akunin’s designation as a “terrorist and extremist” in December, his Russian publisher stopped releasing his books, and many Russian bookshops removed his works from their shelves.

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