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Mikhail Kasyanov: Russia labels ex-PM and Putin critic ‘foreign agent’

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Image source, Reuters

Russia’s justice ministry has put ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on its list of “foreign agents” – a label used widely to curb anti-Kremlin opposition.

Mr Kasyanov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, left Russia shortly after its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

He was PM during Mr Putin’s first presidential term in 2000-2004, but has condemned Russia’s war in Ukraine.

A liberal financial expert, he now lives in exile.

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Many Kremlin critics and civil society groups are on the “foreign agent” list. In the past the label implied spying.

Those listed have to include an explanation of their “foreign agent” status on their publications, including on social media, and give the authorities detailed updates on their funding sources. Their participation in Russian political life is restricted.

The justice ministry said Mr Kasyanov “opposed the special military operation in Ukraine” and was “a member of the Russian Anti-War Committee, an association whose activities are aimed at discrediting Russian foreign and domestic policy”.

Originally the “foreign agent” law was applied to non-governmental organisations which received foreign funding, but it has been expanded to include individuals and media – whether Russian or foreign – deemed to be “under foreign influence”.

In May Russia’s Supreme Court ordered the liquidation of the Party of People’s Freedom (Parnas) led by Mr Kasyanov. The small liberal opposition party formerly included Boris Nemtsov, one of the most vocal anti-Putin critics, who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015.

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