in

Jailed Russian Activist Pivovarov’s Appeal Rejected

KRASNODAR, Russia — A court in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar has rejected an appeal against the continued detention of the jailed former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement, Andrei Pivovarov.

The court ruled on June 15 that Pivovarov’s arrest last month was legal and refused to transfer him to house arrest.

The activist took part in the hearing via video link from the detention center where he is being held due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pivovarov was detained after being removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg in late May.

He is facing charges of “participating in the activities of an undesirable group,” an accusation that he denies, and which stems from a Russian law that has repeatedly been used to target critical voices.

On June 2, a lower court in Krasnodar ruled that Pivovarov should be held for two months after he was accused of publishing a post on social media supporting a local candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization.

Pivovarov and his lawyers insist that he didn’t publish the post but rather it was posted by a former member of his group, Maria Kuznetsova, who confirmed that version of events at the hearing.

Leaders of the Open Russia dissolved the Russian-based group in late May after it was designated an “undesirable” organization, saying they wanted to protect supporters from further “harassment” by the Russian authorities.

Open Russia was financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for challenging Putin politically.

The “undesirable organization” law, adopted in 2015, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources — mainly from Europe and the United States.

The Russian State Duma on June 9 approved the third and final reading of a bill to widen the scope of the law.

Under that bill, Russian nationals and organizations located anywhere in the world will be barred from taking part in the activities of foreign NGOs labeled “undesirable” in Russia.

Reference