Police in Russia have placed former speechwriter for President Vladimir Putin, Abbas Gallyamov, on a wanted list for criminal suspects, marking the latest development in a widespread crackdown on dissent. Gallyamov, who wrote speeches for Putin during his 2008-2012 term as prime minister, later became an outspoken political consultant and analyst frequently quoted by Russian and foreign media. He has lived abroad in recent years.

On Friday, Russian news outlets and an Associated Press (AP) reporter found Gallyamov listed in the Interior Ministry’s database. The entry stated that he was wanted “in relation to a Criminal Code article,” but did not specify the law he was accused of breaking.

Last month, Russia’s Justice Ministry added Gallyamov to its register of foreign agents, a designation that brings additional government scrutiny and carries strong pejorative connotations aimed at undermining the recipient’s credibility. The ministry accused Gallyamov of distributing materials created by foreign agents, speaking out against the special military operation in Ukraine, and participating as an expert and respondent on information platforms provided by foreign structures.

Gallyamov told the AP on Friday that he learned he was on a wanted list from the media, and no law enforcement agency has been in touch to inform him of the charges he faces in Russia. He presumes that the formal charge is discrediting the army, a crime under a new law adopted after Russia sent troops into Ukraine in February 2022. Kremlin critics have been regularly charged under this law.

Gallyamov sees the move against him as part of the Russian government’s “intimidation strategy,” aimed at sending a message to others: “Don’t criticize, don’t think that your independent view of what’s happening will remain unpunished.”

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune