01/12/2022, 10.23
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Putin's critic, author Šenderovič,flees Russia

by Vladimir Rozanskij

His destination is unknown, most likely Israel, where he has citizenship. Through satire, he has accused the Russian president of belonging to a criminal gang. Considered a "foreign agent" by the authorities along with other figures of culture and entertainment.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - One of the most important contemporary Russian writers, Viktor Šenderovich, yesterday fled Russia for an unknown destination, announcing his flight on his Facebook page.  The authorities had labeled him a "foreign agent" on par with almost all of the country's non-aligned journalists and intellectuals. He acknowledged that he was intimidated by pressure from the authorities and the courts, which threatened to convict him of "political" crimes.

A poet, novelist and playwright, the 64-year-old Šenderovič also works as a journalist and publicist, and has also hosted several television programs, becoming a very popular face in Russia. His activity is mainly linked to the Moscow Satire Theater, an institution on the Russian cultural scene, founded in 1924 at the time of Majakovsky and the great grotesque authors of Russian theater and literature.

A member of the Writers' Union since 1992, he was one of the interpreters of the great post-Soviet turning point, with three famous short films: "The New Thought", "Maturity Exam" and "The Voice of God". He is famous for "Puppets" (Kukly), one of the most popular political satire programs since the 90s on the channel NTV, closed by authority in 2002.

Critical of President Putin's politics since the early years, in 2010 he was one of the main signatories of the public appeal "Putin must go". A Petersburger like the president, he has been accusing him for years of belonging to one of the main criminal gangs in the "northern capital".

In 2013 he produced the video "Against Homophobia" in defense of the Lgbt community, and in 2014 he joined many other representatives of the Russian intelligentsija in condemning the annexation of Crimea, one of the most significant acts of the expansive nationalism of the Putin regime. In 2020 he was one of the few in Russia to support the protests of Belarusians against the falsification of Lukashenko's election.

Last November, the writer, of Jewish ethnicity, obtained the Israeli citizenship, "I have been at home there for a long time", he wrote even if he did not clarify  where he has moved "to escape the security services surveillance ". In fact, Šenderovič's most explicit conflict is with businessman Evgenij Prigožin, a powerful man very close to Putin, who sued him in court along with Ekho Moskvy's editor-in-chief, Aleksej Venediktov, over corruption charges against him.

Last month, the authorities placed Šenderovič on the "blacklist," the register of people and companies defined as "foreign agents."  He is joined by several other protagonists of culture and information, such as Pussy Riot singers Nadežda Tolokonnikova and Veronika Nikulšina, gallery owner Marat Gelman, journalists Taisja Bekbulatova, Elena Vladykina and Ivan Beljaev and entrepreneur-ecologist Andrej Alekseev.

Even in Soviet times, space was left for satire, which today is no longer tolerated in Putin's Russia. Without Šenderovič, it will be difficult to take those who do not allow themselves to be mocked seriously.


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