Throughout Vladimir Putin’s tenure, critics of the Kremlin have been met with untimely deaths, poisonings, and alleged assassination attempts. While those close to the victims and a few survivors have pointed fingers at Russian authorities, the Kremlin vehemently denies any involvement in the misfortunes that have befallen its adversaries. One notable example is that of Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the mercenary group Wagner. Just two months after leading a rebellion against Moscow, with the aim of overthrowing the Russian military leadership, Prigozhin tragically lost his life in a plane crash. There have also been reports of suspicious deaths among prominent Russian executives, including instances where individuals fell from windows.
However, determining whether these incidents were deliberate acts of killings or suicides can often prove challenging. These attacks against Kremlin critics have ranged from the extraordinary, such as being poisoned by polonium-laced tea or lethal nerve agents, to more conventional methods like close-range shootings or fatal falls from open windows. Critics of the Kremlin, turncoat spies, and investigative journalists have been targeted and assaulted in various ways.Here is a list of individuals who have faced severe consequences after criticizing the Kremlin:
1. Alexei Navalny
Known for his vocal opposition to Vladimir Putin, Navalny fell into a coma during a flight from Siberia to Moscow in August 2020. After an emergency landing in Omsk, he was hospitalized and eventually airlifted to Berlin, where he recovered. Tests conducted by Germany, France, and Sweden confirmed that Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok, a potent Soviet-era nerve agent.
2. Boris Nemtsov
Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin and a prominent politician, was a staunch critic of Putin. In February 2015, he was assassinated by gunmen on a bridge near the Kremlin while walking with his girlfriend. Nemtsov’s death shocked the nation and drew international attention.
3. Vladimir Kara-Murza
This prominent opposition figure survived two incidents he believes were attempts on his life. In 2015 and 2017, he suffered severe illness, with symptoms indicating possible poisoning. Kara-Murza almost died from kidney failure during the first incident and was put into a medically induced coma in 2017. His wife claimed doctors confirmed he had been poisoned. Despite surviving, police have refused to investigate. In 2020, he was found guilty of treason and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
4. Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB and FSB agent who defected from Russia, fell violently ill in London in 2006 after drinking tea contaminated with radioactive polonium-210. Investigating the shooting death of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and alleged connections between Russian intelligence agencies and organized crime, Litvinenko revealed the existence of a poisons laboratory from the Soviet era operated by the FSB. He passed away three weeks after the poisoning.
5. Anna Politkovskaya
Politkovskaya, a journalist for Novaya Gazeta, was shot and killed in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on Putin’s birthday in 2006. She gained international recognition for her reporting on human rights abuses in Chechnya.
6. Yuri Shchekochikhin
Another Novaya Gazeta reporter, Yuri Shchekochikhin, died suddenly and violently in 2003. He was investigating corrupt business transactions and suspected involvement of Russian security services in the 1999 apartment bombings attributed to Chechen insurgents.
Throughout the years, Kremlin critics have faced dire consequences, leaving many to question the safety and protection of those who dare to voice their opposition to the Russian government.