Criminal charges for Akunin and fine for Bykov as Russia’s cancellation of war critical writers continues

A court in Moscow has charged writer Boris Akunin with “the justification of terrorism” and with “spreading false information about the Russian army”, the capital’s court press service announced on Tuesday.

Famous for his Erast Fandorin novels, Akunin, a dual Russian-Georgian citizen who lives in London, has already been named a foreign agent and placed on a list of “terrorists and extremists” for his outspoken criticism of the war in Ukraine.

According to court papers, Akunin can be taken into custody for two months “calculated from the moment of his actual detention”, referring to the fact that he’s currently outside Russian jurisdiction. 

Russian bookstores had already begun the wide-scale removal of Akunin’s books on Tuesday, with his novels vanishing from both Wildberries and Ozon, two of Russia’s biggest online retailers, while digital book shop LitRes had Akunin’s titles marked as “temporarily unavailable”.

Another prominent Russian writer, Dmitry Bykov, was fined 10,000 rubles (€100) for “participation in the activities of an undesirable organisation” over a video he made for Novaya Gazeta Europe last year, the Moscow court press service also announced on Tuesday.

“There are no desirable organisations left in Russia with whom I could work with a clear conscience,” Bykov wrote in an article for Novaya Gazeta Europe on January 25. The authorities couldn’t stand competition, he added, “so in order to occupy all public space, they need to expel all professionals from the country under the pretext of their ideological undesirability”.

Last week, best-selling Russian writer Lyudmila Ulitskaya’s books were reportedly withdrawn from Moscow libraries following comments the author made about her support for Ukraine.

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