Russian actor and President Vladimir Putin critic Alexei Devotchenko, 49, was found dead in his Moscow apartment. Police suspect foul play due to the crime scene but did not elaborate.
“There is reason to suppose that the artist’s death is of a criminal character,” said a law enforcement source.
Reports conflict on how and where authorities found Devotchenko’s body. Some reports claim a friend found him in a pool of blood, while others claim he was found inside his home. Police will not discuss a motive, but The Telegraph reports Devotchenko’s criticism of Putin might be a motive:
In 2011, the actor said he was renouncing two state acting prizes “received from Putin’s hands,” saying he was “ashamed.” “I’ve had enough of all this tsar-state stuff,” he wrote in a blog post. “With its lies, its cover-ups, its legalised theft, its bribe-taking and its other triumphs.”
A year earlier he had urged fellow actors, artists and musicians to boycott “ultra-patriotic, propagandistic, chauvinistic, anti-Semitic, or pro-Stalinist feature films and television projects” and “agitprop documentaries.”
He also called on them not to talk to “lying and tendentious state media” or to take part in Kremlin-linked banquets.
He claimed all money from these banquets “smells of dank prison cells, of neglected hospitals and homeless shelters, of the acrid smoke of burnt-out architectural monuments, and historical buildings, and night clubs, and homes for the elderly. It smells of the boots of the OMON riot police.”
Devotchenko participated in numerous anti-Kremlin protests and condemned Russia’s aggression towards Ukraine.
The Kremlin and media sources loyal to the Kremlin claim it was an accident. One official, as well as LifeNews, said he might “have died by striking his head while drunk.” The reports said “empty whiskey bottles and empty packets of a drug called Phenazepam were found near his body.”
It is well known that Putin is a narcissist and does not respond well to any criticism. He enjoys posing for shirtless photo shoots and performing enormous “feats.” In March, when Russia was in the process of annexing Crimea from Ukraine, Moscow shut down three news websites critical of the Kremlin and the blog of longtime opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Lenta.ru’s chief editor Galina Timchenko resigned, but employees said she was fired because she defied the Kremlin and published an interview that quoted the Right Sector Party’s leader. Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was murdered in October 2006. Her book Putin’s Russia: Life in a Failing Democracy criticized Putin and the Russian secret service. She received numerous death threats. A week before she was killed, she said she was a witness against Ramzan Kadyrov due to abductions in Chechnya. Kadyrov is now president of Chechnya and Putin’s close friend.