Alexei Devotchenko, a prominent Russian actor who was vocal in his opposition to Russian president Vladimir Putin, has been found dead in Moscow under suspicious circumstances. He was 49.
According to Russian news outlets, the actor was found in a pool of his own blood in his home north of the city. Reports conflict on whether he was found outside or inside his apartment.
An official cause of death has yet to be revealed, but Devotchenko’s known position toward Putin and the circumstances under which he was found put a microscope on the case. Police are still investigating.
“There is reason to suppose that the artist’s death is of a criminal character,” said one official.
Devotchenko appeared in such popular shows as “The Street of Broken Lamps” and “Bandit Petersburg.” He had a stage career as well, acting in productions at the Moscow Art Theatre.
The actor was a part of Putin opposition group United Civil Front, took part in many street demonstrations and often penned blog posts with a passionate message toward Putin and his supporters.
“I’ve had enough of all this tsar-state stuff,” he wrote in a blog post. “With its lies, its cover-ups, its legalised theft, its bribe-taking and its other triumphs.”
In 2011, Devotchenko renounced two state acting prizes he received, as he said he was ashamed to receive them from the hands of Putin.
He encouraged other entertainers to renounce the Russian president as well. He asked them to boycott “ultra-patriotic” film and TV projects, as well as banquets linked to Putin, as the money earned from such activities “smells of dank prison cells, of neglected hospitals and homeless shelters, of the acrid smoke of burnt-out architectural monuments and historical buildings and night clubs and homes for the elderly.”
The case remains under investigation.