Russia Adds Ekho Moskvy Editor, Navalny Ally, Others To 'Foreign Agents' List

By Current Time

Russian authorities have designated the former head of an independent radio station, a longtime ally of a jailed opposition leader, and seven others as "foreign agents" in a crackdown that has intensified since Russia launched all-out war in Ukraine eight weeks ago.

The Justice Ministry added former Ekho Moskvy editor in chief Aleksei Venediktov and exiled Kremlin critic Leonid Volkov to a list that now targets around 150 entities and citizens for ostracization and burdensome labeling requirements.

News of their listings follows confirmation that the ministry also placed prominent opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, who is in detention over alleged statements concerning the Ukraine war, on the "foreign agents" list.

The other additions are: TV journalist and former lawmaker Aleksandr Nevzorov, independent media award RedKollegia co-founder Sergei Parkhomenko, sociologist Viktor Vakhshtain, Yaroslavl LGBT rights activist Yaroslav Sirotkin, journalist Vladimir Voronov, and RFE/RL journalists Artur Asafiev and Yekaterina Lushnikova.

"We condemn this blatant slur against more of our journalists who are patriotic Russian nationals," RFE/RL President Jamie Fly said. "RFE/RL's commitment to providing independent information to our Russian audiences will outlast this latest attempt to deprive the Russian people of the truth."

Russia's original 2012 legislation on "foreign agents" targeted NGOs and rights groups and has since been expanded to punish media organizations, individual journalists, YouTube vloggers, and many other perceived opponents alleged to have even indirect ties to outside funding.

Venediktov's Ekho Moskvy was a leading media outlet that, along with numerous other remaining independent news providers, has been shut down since late February over their coverage of the war.

Volkov is a longtime associate of jailed opposition leader Aleksei Navalny who was among several Navalny allies to flee Russia last year before being placed on the government's list of extremists and terrorists.

Russian authorities have tried to cast Navalny and his supporters as Western-backed subversive operatives trying to destabilize Russia.

Many of Navalny’s allies have fled Russia rather than face restrictions on their freedoms or prison time at home, contributing to a long-running demographic dilemma that has been exacerbated by a wave of emigration since the Ukraine invasion.

Venediktov, who is Jewish and a frequent target of pro-Kremlin abuse, reported finding the severed head of a pig at the door of his Moscow apartment late last month and a note reading "Judensau," or "Jewish pig."

Kara-Murza was listed by the ministry as an agent of Ukraine.

A Russian court on April 22 ordered pretrial detention for Kara-Murza for allegedly spreading false information about the Russian army, his lawyer said.

Nine other people were added to the "foreign agents" list on April 15, including YouTuber Yury Dud, political scientist and publicist Yekaterina Shulman, cartoonist Sergei Elkin, The Insider founder and editor-in-chief Roman Dobrokhotov, and journalist and LGBT activist Karen Shainyan.