Comment on the article The Lebedevs are freedom fighters, not Kremlin cronies by Dmitry Muratov in The Times, 17 March 2022.
The word ‘former’ is a very important and flexible word in the Communist/Russian dictionary. It is applied on opposite sides of the axis of memory and importance. When used in reference to the victims of Communism, as in ‘former people’, i.e. ‘enemies of the people’, it means those eliminated from history and relevance once and for all.
However, on the opposite side of this axis of importance and relevance it is used to boost the public profile of the person, as in ‘former’ Putin ally.
Thus ‘former people’ are gone forever, whereas ‘former’ Putin allies are very much alive and have incredibly successful careers. So much so, that some current PMs are eager to participate in this formerness.