They got here for Dmitri Kolker, an ailing physicist, within the intensive care ward. They got here for Ivan Fedotov, a hockey star, as he was leaving observe with a movie crew in tow. They got here for Vladimir Mau, a state college rector, the week he was re-elected to the board of Gazprom.
The message despatched by these high-profile detentions: Almost anybody is now punishable in Vladimir V. Putin’s Russia.
The flurry of arrests throughout the nation in current days has signaled that the Kremlin is intent on tightening the noose round Russian society even additional. It seems to be a manifestation of Mr. Putin’s declaration within the early weeks of his warfare in Ukraine that Russia wanted to cleanse itself of pro-Western “scum and traitors,” and it’s creating an unmistakable chill.
“Daily feels prefer it might be the final,” Leonid Gozman, 71, a commentator who continues to talk out towards Mr. Putin and the warfare, stated in a cellphone interview from Moscow, acknowledging the worry that he, too, might be arrested.
Not one of the targets of the current crackdown was an outspoken Kremlin critic. However every represented an outward-looking Russia that Mr. Putin more and more describes as an existential menace. And the methods they have been taken into custody appeared meant to make waves.
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Mr. Kolker, the physicist, entered the hospital final week for remedy for late-stage most cancers, so weak that he was unable to eat. The subsequent day, brokers for the Federal Safety Service, the successor company to the Ok.G.B., arrived and, accusing him of treason, flew him to a Moscow jail. Over the weekend, he died in custody.
It was unclear why the F.S.B. focused Mr. Kolker, 54, a specialist in quantum optics. State media reported that he had been jailed on suspicion of passing secrets and techniques overseas. However the F.S.B. has more and more jailed scientists in a marketing campaign that critics name an unjustified crackdown on freedom of thought.
Mr. Kolker’s arrest got here similtaneously the arrest on fraud expenses of Mr. Mau, a number one Russian economist who’s the pinnacle of a sprawling state college, the Russian Presidential Academy of Nationwide Economic system and Public Administration.
Mr. Mau had joined greater than 300 senior tutorial officers in signing a March open letter calling the invasion of Ukraine a “essential choice,” and he was re-elected to the board of Gazprom, the Russian power large, simply final week. However he additionally had a fame as somebody who was working inside Mr. Putin’s system to attempt to nudge it in a extra open and pro-Western course.
His Kremlin ties weren’t sufficient, it turned out, to save lots of Mr. Mau from a fraud case that critics stated appeared meant to snuff out the remaining pockets of dissent in Russian academia.
Mr. Fedotov, 25, one the hockey world’s up-and-coming stars at goalie, helped the Russian Olympic Committee males’s ice hockey group win a silver medal on the Winter Olympics in Beijing and has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers.
On Friday, as Mr. Fedotov was leaving a observe session in St. Petersburg, he was stopped by a gaggle of males and brought away in a van, according to a tv journalist who was filming a particular report about him and noticed the episode.
Mr. Fedotov’s obvious crime, based on Russian information businesses: evading army service. Russian males underneath 27 are required to serve for one yr, though sports activities stars are usually capable of keep away from conscription.
His elaborate detention was broadly perceived as punishment for his having chosen to play in america somewhat than keep in Russia. However Russia’s sports activities minister, Oleg Matytsin, dismissed that concept.
“Reside based on the legislation,” he said, “and all the things will probably be high-quality.”