In the last five months, three prominent Russians dissidents belonging to the same political party have either been murdered, hospitalized with kidney failure, or interrogated after a surprise home invasion by the state security services. It may all be a very Russian coincidence, of course, but Ilya Yashin seems to be tempting another.
Yashin, one of Russia’s leading opposition figures, came to Washington D.C. last week to promote a much-touted report documenting Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine, which may have been the reason for his colleague and former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov’s assassination in February, just meters away from the Kremlin.
Within hours of Yashin’s arrival, one of his colleagues fell gravely ill with a suspected case of poisoning. And all this comes Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued an Executive Order classifying the deaths of Russian soldiers killed in “special operations”: read, yes, Ukraine. “We want to build the country that Nemtsov was fighting for, that he was killed for,” the 33-year old activist told me in between meetings promoting “Putin.War,” an investigative report begun by Nemtsov, offering evidence of the names of Russian soldiers killed in action in the Donbas and, it is speculated, may have provoked his assassination in February.