LISBON: Former chess champion Garry Kasparov, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, said on Thursday he fears for his safety in the wake of the weekend murder of a critical Russian investigative journalist.
“I try to protect myself and my family as much as possible but I am aware that no protection is possible,” he said in an interviewed published in daily Portuguese newspaper Jornal de Negocios.
“Putin’s regime is seen in the West as a strange democracy, a Russian-style democracy. But in reality it is a police state. And the sooner Putin leaves, the better off the country will be,” he added.
Speaking at a business conference in Lisbon late Wednesday, Kasparov said “it would be stupid for someone who is hostile to an authoritarian regime to not be afraid,” daily newspaper 24Horas reported.
Kasparov, who was born in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan, helped set up Committee 2008, a group dedicated to bringing down Putin and stopping the constitution from being changed so that he can run for a third term.
On Saturday Anna Politkovskaya, one of the last journalists to investigate human rights abuses in Chechnya and openly criticise Putin, was gunned down in what police said was a professional hit.
The murder caused an international outcry and raised fears about freedom of the press in Russia, where at least 42 journalists have been killed since the Soviet collapse in 1991.