St. Petersburg court labels Putin-critical journalist and his wife ‘extremist union’ — Novaya Gazeta Europe
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St. Petersburg court labels Putin-critical journalist and his wife ‘extremist union’

Alexander Nevzorov and his wife Lydia. Photo: Lydia Nevzorova / Instagram

Alexander Nevzorov and his wife Lydia. Photo: Lydia Nevzorova / Instagram

A court in St. Petersburg declared former State Duma deputy turned journalist and Putin critic Alexander Nevzorov and his wife Lydia an “extremist union” on Tuesday, according to their lawyer, the first time a Russian court has deemed a couple to be an extremist unit.

The ruling means the couple’s property and remaining assets in Russia can be confiscated by the state and makes any political activity by the couple in Russia a criminal offence.

“Freedom is expensive. But no price can be too high,” Nevzorov, who is resident in the EU, wrote on Telegram following the ruling, adding that the Russian authorities had attempted to blackmail him for two months, offering a “a court decision in his favour” in exchange for him revising his position on the war.

Nevzorov said that he had refused to accept the proposed deal and had remained a staunch critic of Putin, whom he referred to as “the Kremlin ghoul” on his popular Telegram and YouTube channels.

Nevzorov shot to fame as a host of a political talk show on the Leningrad television in the 1980s amid Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev’s glasnost reforms, and pursued a political career after the collapse of the Soviet Union, having served as a State Duma deputy from 1993 until 2007. Despite initially supporting Vladimir Putin during his 2012 election campaign, Nevzorov opposed the 2014 annexation of Crimea and has since been sharply critical of the Kremlin’s policies.

In February 2023, Nevzorov was found guilty in absentia of discrediting the Russian military after he criticised its assault on a nursing home in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol and wrote about Russian military atrocities committed in the occupied Ukrainian town of Bucha. He was sentenced to eight years in prison. A month later the Justice Ministry also gave Nevzorov “foreign agent” status.

In early June, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a secret decree granting the couple Ukrainian citizenship for their “outstanding services to the country”.

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