Journalist and political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky flees Russia

Journalist, scholar and political analyst Andrei Piontkovsky has fled Russia, fearing possible criminal prosecution. The Russian Prosecutor's Office claims it has found signs of extremism in his article for Ekho Moskvii, his lawyer, Mark Feygin, said.

Earlier ,on February 19th, it became known that the Prosecutor General's Office found signs of extremism in Piontkovsky's article, "The bomb, ready to explode." In this article, which was published on the 23rd of January, the author addressed the future of Chechnya as a part of Russia.

"Putin has admitted himself defeated and has given all the power in Chechnya to Kadyrov, with his army, and has paid him a war indemnity from the budget," Piontkovsky wrote. "In response, Kadyrov formally declared not so much loyalty to the Kremlin as to his personal union with Putin. It would be monstrous to continue the war of extermination of the Chechen people – the way Shamanov and Budanov did it."

"After starting and losing the war in the Caucasus, the Kremlin, in exchange for ostentatious obedience, pays a war indemnity not only to Kadyrov, but also to criminal elites of other states. This money is spent on palaces and gold pistols for the local leaders. Robbed of the purpose, unemployed young Caucasians join the soldiers of Allah or migrate from the Caucasus to cities in Russia. And in the depressive neighborhood of Biryulyovo had grown up a generation of children of those who have been put at such a disadvantage during the twenty years of the 'market' economic reform that it's impossible to catch up. Mentally, between Russian and Caucasian youth, who from childhood grew up in circumstances of brutal war, first in Chechnya, and then all over the Caucasus, there is a gaping abyss,"  the author wrote.

"Young natives of Moscow are marching in the city, shouting 'Stop feeding the Caucasus!' And the young Caucasians behave on the streets of Russian cities defiantly provocative and aggressively. They have developed a psychology of winners. In their opinion, Moscow has lost the Caucasian war, and they behave appropriately in the conquered capital. In their minds and hearts, the Caucasus and Russia are rapidly moving away from each other. And neither the Kremlin nor the North Caucasus 'elite' are ready for the formal separation," the analyst emphasized.

Piontkovsky confirmed on Twitter that the Prosecutor's Office opened a case against him: "The Prosecutor's Office and the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (IC) are fighting for the right to kill a 76-year-old man. The State Duma gave an order to the IC to get rid of me, but the Prosecutor's Office has already sent my case to the FSB."

The representative of the Prosecutor General's Office said that the prosecution started a criminal investigation into the offense, described in Part 2 of Article 280 (public calls for extremist activities committed using mass media) and Part 1 of Article 282 (incitement to hatred or enmity). The reason for the investigation are the appeals to the General Prosecutor's Office, made by the Chechen Parliament Speaker, Magomed Daudov, and the Chair of the State Duma Committee on Security and Anti-Corruption, Irina Yarovaya. They asked to check Piontkovsky's article for extremism.

"This article, in our opinion, has an undisguised anti-state orientation and is subject to the relevant articles of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation," Daudov said.

The article is still available on the website, Ekho Moskvii, but the last two paragraphs have been deleted from it. In those paragraphs, the author talked about the possible secession of Chechnya from Russia.

Piontkovsky is a political writer and analyst and is a staunch critic of Vladimir Putin. He is a former member of the Russian Opposition Coordination Council and is a regular contributor to the BBC and Radio Liberty. He is the author of numerous books, including his most recent Another Look into Putin’s Soul.

In 2007, a court considered the possibility of recognizing Piontkovsky's book "Unloved Country" as extremist. Investigators claimed to have found violent and derogatory remarks against people of Jewish, American, and Russian descent in his writings. However, in 2008, all charges against the journalist were dropped.

  Russia, opposition, Piontkovsky