Russia threatens to charge chess great Kasparov for ‘heading a terrorist society’

Russian law enforcement officials may prosecute chess legend Garry Kasparov on terrorism charges, state media TASS reported Sunday, signaling a potential expansion of attempts to stifle criticism of the Kremlin.

Kasparov, the world’s best chess player in the 1990s and 2000s, has been an outspoken critic of the Russian government. He was “arrested in absentia” in April for his activity organizing the Free Russian Forum, a conference bolstering political opposition hosted in Lithuania.

Russian law enforcement told TASS that there is “every reason” to prosecute Kasparov under the country’s foreign agent laws. The chess grand master has lived in exile from Russia since 2013.

The new charges would likely be related to the Anti-War Committee, another government opposition group founded by Kasparov in 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine, TASS reported. The group has labeled President Vladimir Putin a “mad dictator” and strongly opposed the invasion.

Kasparov was added to a list of foreign agents in 2022 because of his work with the Anti-War Committee. The list forces anyone identified as having foreign support or influence to register with the justice ministry and declare themselves foreign agents, as well as requiring significant disclosures.

The move comes as the Russian government continues a crackdown on domestic dissent as the war in Ukraine continues. At least 50,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the conflict so far, BBC reported last month.

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