Person of the Week: Andrei Pivovarov

Week-ending 4 June 2021

On 31 May 2021 Andrei Pivovarov, the former executive director of Open Russia, was taken from a plane as it taxied on the runway in St. Petersburg for questioning and remanded in custody on charges of ‘repeated violations’ of the law on ‘undesirable organisations.’ Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for his immediate release.


RFE/RL, 1 June 2021: The former executive director of Open Russia, a pro-democracy movement founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was removed from a plane in St. Petersburg and detained in the latest crackdown on opposition forces in the country. Andrei Pivovarov was taken in for questioning in St. Petersburg and detained for repeated alleged violations of the law on so-called “undesirable organizations,” according to a message transmitted through his lawyer on Telegram late on May 31. “They just said that a case was opened against me under Article 284.1 of the Criminal Code for cooperation with an undesirable organization, which is nonsense,” Pivovarov said in the letter.

Amnesty International, 1 June 2021: Reacting to the news that Andrei Pivovarov, Executive Director of the recently disbanded Open Russia, a Russian pro-democracy and human rights movement, was taken off a flight in Saint Petersburg and arbitrarily detained, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director, said: “This is an audacious move by the Kremlin in its continued use of the law on ‘undesirable’ organizations to target and shut down critics. The sole purpose of this legislation is to crack down on independent organizations and prosecute those associated with them. In spite of its recent self-dissolution to prevent the authorities from targeting its members, the witch-hunt against Open Russia continues.

Human Rights Watch, 1 June 2021: Russian authorities have targeted another activist under its “undesirable organization” law, the former executive director of the Open Russia Civic Movement, a pro-democracy organization. On May 31, police detained Andrey Pivovarov, forcing him to disembark from an international flight at St Petersburg airport as the plane was preparing to take off. The egregious offence that prompted such extraordinary action? In August 2020, Pivovarov posted information about candidates in the then upcoming municipal elections. The Krasnodar Investigative Committee, which initiated criminal proceedings against him on May 29, issued a press statement on June 1, alleging that this post constituted public dissemination of information in support of an undesirable organization and that he was detained “during an attempt to flee abroad from the investigation.”

RFE/RL, 2 June 2021: A court has ordered the detention of the former executive director of Open Russia, a pro-democracy movement, for two months after he was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane in St. Petersburg just before departure. The court in the southern city of Krasnodar ruled on June 2 that Andrei Pivovarov should be held for two months after the authorities accused him of publishing a post on social media supporting a local election candidate last year on behalf of an “undesirable” organization.

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