Russia Removes Opposition Leader From Plane; Andrei Pivovarov Detained

Monday, May 31, 2021 | Tag Cloud Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent

(Worthy News) – The leader of the now-defunct opposition group Open says he has been pulled off a plane and detained by Russian in St. Petersburg late Monday.

Andrei Pivovarov said his flight was already taxiing for takeoff at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport when it was halted, and he was removed.

The incident comes over a week after neighboring Belarus forced a Ryanair passenger plane to land in Minsk, where police pulled an opposition journalist and his girlfriend off the aircraft. The Russian and Belarusian presidents condemned Western over that incident and met each other over the weekend in the Russian resort of Sochi.

In remarks published on social networking site, Pivovarov said he had been taken to the Investigative Committee offices for managing an “undesirable” organization. A conviction for such activity could carry a prison sentence of up to six years.

Pivovarov announced last week that Open Russia was ceasing operations to protect its members from prosecution. Tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky financed open Russia. He moved to London after spending 10 years in a Russian prison on charges he viewed as political revenge for challenging President Vladimir ’s rule.

The Russian government passed a law in 2015 that made membership of an “undesirable” organization a criminal offense. Moscow used the designation has been used to ban about 30 groups. Several German Non-Government Organizations in Russia were deemed “undesirable” last week, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle reported.

MORE CONTROVERSY

An earlier law obliges non-governmental groups that receive foreign funding and engage in activities loosely described as political to register as “foreign agents.”

Authorities have described the laws as a response to alleged Western efforts to undermine Russia; critics describe them as part of the Kremlin’s efforts to stifle dissent.

Critics say the government loyal to President Vladimir Putin has intensified its crackdown on the opposition ahead of September parliamentary elections.

It comes while the popularity of the main Kremlin-backed party, United Russia, has waned, pollsters suggest.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Putin’s most vocal political foe, was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison in February. He was detained in Moscow upon his January return from , where he spent five months recovering from poisoning by the Soviet-era Novichok nerve agent.

He and the West have balked the Kremlin for the arrack. Moscow has vehemently denied the accusations.

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