A Moscow court on Tuesday ordered the arrest in absentia of bestselling Russian language writer Boris Akunin for allegedly spreading "disinformation" about the Russian army.

The 67-year-old was charged in December last year after he expressed support for Kyiv in a phone call with Russian pranksters posing as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Akunin, who has lived abroad since 2014, will be immediately held in custody for two months if he is extradited or ever sets foot in Russia, Moscow's Basmanny District Court ruled.

Akunin is the pen name of Georgian-born writer Grigory Chkhartishvili, who has become one of Russia's most widely read contemporary authors and best known for his historical detective novels.

He has been a longstanding critic of the Kremlin, and denounced Moscow's assault on Ukraine as "absurd" shortly after the offensive began in February 2022.


He had already been labelled a "foreign agent" by Moscow in January, a loaded term the Kremlin applies to people it sees as traitors and enemies of the state.

Moscow made disparagement of its military illegal weeks after launching its assault on Ukraine, and has detained thousands of the conflict's opponents since.

Many prominent cultural figures have fled Russia since it launched its military operation in Ukraine, and those who have stayed face strict censorship.

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