Leading Russian writer charged for involvement with ‘undesirable’ organisation

One of Russia’s best known writers, Dmitry Bykov, is facing legal action for his alleged involvement with a so-called “undesirable organisation”, independent media outlet Mediazona reported on Wednesday.

While the name of the organisation has not been revealed, under a 2015 law, Russia’s Prosecutor General can designate any organisation “undesirable” if it is believed to have undermined Russia’s national security or the country’s constitution.

An undesirable organisation cannot legally continue to exist in Russia and must dissolve itself. Novaya Gazeta Europe was deemed an undesirable organisation in June. Any Russian citizen cooperating with an “undesirable organisation” is liable for a fine of 15,000 rubles (€150) for a first offence, while a second offence can result in a prison sentence of up to four years.

Bykov has already been fined twice by another Moscow court for non-compliance with Russia’s “foreign agents” legislation, which obligates all individuals and organisations deemed foreign agents to announce the fact at the start of every publication or post they make.

A former Novaya Gazeta columnist, Bykov is a poet and novelist best known for his project Citizen Poet, a series of poems satirising contemporary Russian society and politics. He is also a biographer of the 20th-century Russian authors Boris Pasternak and Maxim Gorky.

In April 2019, Bykov was hospitalised with poisoning symptoms in an incident that was later revealed by Bellingcat to be a nerve agent attack carried out by Russian government agents.

In November, two of Russian largest publishing houses announced they would no longer sell books by Dmitry Bykov or Boris Akunin, another prominent Russian author who has publicly criticised the war in Ukraine.

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