Friday, November 7, 2014

Russian Actor and Outspoken Critic of Vladimir Putin Found Dead in His Home

Alexei Devotchenko, right, appeared in King Lear in London in 2006. (photo: Tristram Kenton/Guardian UK)

Russian Actor and Outspoken Critic of Vladimir Putin Found Dead in His Home
By Howard Amos, Guardian UK
06 November 14

Friend says actor Alexei Devotchenko was murdered but investigators say there was no sign of violence

Alexei Devotchenko, an actor and outspoken critic of the president Vladimir Putin, was found dead in his Moscow apartment on Wednesday evening.

The circumstances of his death were not immediately clear, but investigators told Russian news agencies that there were no signs of a violent death and that an autopsy was being carried out.

Fellow actor Stanislav Sadalsky wrote on his blog that, according to his information, Devotchenko had been murdered.

As well as taking part in dozens of anti-Kremlin protests over the past decade, Devotchenko, 49, had spoken out in defence of gay people facing increasing discrimination and criticised Moscow’s support for separatists in eastern Ukraine, praising protesters in Kiev seeking closer ties with the EU.

One report said the activist was found by a relative in a pool of his own blood after injuring himself while drunk. According to the Russian tabloid LifeNews, which has connections to the security services, Devotchenko had punched a glass cabinet in an intoxicated rage and badly wounded himself.

Devotchenko rose to fame as a stage and screen actor working in his native Saint Petersburg, but he moved to Moscow several years ago.

Saint Petersburg opposition politician Boris Vishnevsky told Radio Liberty: “Lyosha was a genius, a wonderful citizen and the epitome of fearlessness and courage. Despite all this, he was like a big child and life’s troubles followed him wherever he went.”

Devotchenko took a prominent role in Russia’s anti-Kremlin opposition movement that brought tens of thousands on to the streets following 2011 elections alleged to have been tainted by widespread fraud.

In a public gesture of his dissatisfaction with the regime, Devotchenko returned several state prizes received from Putin. “I am sick of this empire-state, with its lies, conspiracy of silence, legitimized theft, bribe-taking and all its other virtues,” he wrote at the time.

When the huge rallies that marked the anti-Putin opposition movement of 2011-12 fizzled out after a Kremlin crackdown, Devotchenko was one of a hardcore of activists who continued to attend protests. After rallying outside a courtroom in February this year in support of anti-Putin activists imprisoned for allegedly attacking police officers, Devotchenko predicted that the end of the Putin regime would come, but was not yet imminent. “The thaw is over. We are looking forward to a long winter,” he wrote on his blog.

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