Russian Government Issues Arrest Warrant for Putin Critic Masha Gessen

Gessen won a National Book Award in 2017 for a book on Russian totalitarianism

Masha Gessen in 2022
Masha Gessen speaks onstage at the 2022 CPJ International Press Freedom Awards.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

If you’ve sought trenchant analysis of the current political situation in Russia, odds are good that you’ve encountered the work of Masha Gessen. Gessen’s critically acclaimed books have focused on a host of subjects related to contemporary Russia, from the rise of Vladimir Putin to the legal troubles of activist group Pussy Riot to the spread of totalitarianism throughout the country.

Unfortunately, totalitarian regimes have a penchant for attacking their critics, and Putin’s government is no different. As The Associated Press reports (via The Guardian), Russian law enforcement recently opened a case against Gessen and issued a warrant for their arrest.

Gessen’s book The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia won the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2017.

As the AP reports, this follows an interview Gessen conducted with journalist Yury Dud in which Gessen cited war crimes committed by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha. The Russian government has been active in its actions against dissent; the AP noted that nearly 20,000 Russians have been imprisoned for speaking out against the war to date.

Earlier this year, Gessen resigned from PEN’s board of directors after the cancellation of a panel at the PEN World Voices Festival that they were scheduled to moderate. (Full disclosure: I’m a PEN member.) “It’s up to people whose country hasn’t been invaded, whose relatives haven’t been disappeared, whose houses are not being bombed, to say there are certain things we don’t do — we don’t silence people,” Gessen told The Atlantic at the time.

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