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Russia labels Navalny allies, rapper ‘foreign agents’

By AFP

Russia on Friday added new figures critical of the Kremlin to its list of “foreign agents,” including two exiled allies of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and a popular rapper.

The Russian justice ministry added eight people to the list, which now includes more than 160 media outlets and personalities.

“Foreign agents” are subject to numerous constraints and laborious procedures, or they face heavy penalties. They must indicate this status in all their publications.

The new additions include Vladimir Milov and Lyubov Sobol, two allies in exile of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was jailed in January 2021 and sentenced in March to nine years in prison for fraud.

Popular rapper Alisher Morgenshtern, 24, also joined the list of “foreign agents.”

In October 2021, he sparked outrage among Russian war veterans after he said in an interview posted on YouTube that he “did not understand” why Victory Day over the Nazis was celebrated in Russia on May 9.

The Investigative Committee then said it was investigating the remarks to establish whether they constituted “a violation of the law” on “public insult to the memory of defenders of the Motherland” and the “rehabilitation of Nazism”.

The rapper apologised on Instagram, accusing the media of “distorting” his remarks.

Two Russian political scientists, Boris Kagarlitsky and Leonid Gozman, were also placed on the list of “foreign agents”.

Since the start of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine on February 24, dozens of members of the Russian intellectual elite and journalists have left the country, as the authorities step up pressure against the last critical voices and media.

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