Russian opposition member Pivovarov arrested

Plane stopped Russian opposition member Pivovarov arrested

Andrei Piwovarov

Andrej Piwowarow at an opposition rally in summer 2020. Photo: Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP / dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

Only a few days ago, the Kremlin-critical organization “Open Russia” was effectively banned. Their leader gave up. Now he was taken from an airplane and arrested.

The prominent Russian opposition politician Andrei Piwowarow was arrested on board an airplane while leaving for Poland.

Police officers stopped the machine, which was already rolling, in St. Petersburg on Monday evening, wrote Piwowarow in his Telegram channel. The responsible investigative authority said on Tuesday that the 39-year-old was accused of participating in an “undesirable organization” in Russia. He faces up to six years imprisonment.

Until recently, Piwovarov had headed the "Open Russia" organization, which was critical of the Kremlin. A few days ago, the group supported by the Kremlin opponent Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who lived abroad, was declared an “undesirable organization” in Russia and was thus effectively banned. Under pressure from the state, Piwowarow had announced the dissolution.

He described the fact that he was arrested anyway as “complete lawlessness”. The human rights organization Amnesty International spoke of a “witch hunt” against “Open Russia” and demanded the immediate release of Pivovarov.

The politician should be brought to the city of Krasnodar about 1200 kilometers south of Moscow on Tuesday, the state agency Tass reported, citing security forces. Piwowarov's lawyer explained the transfer with several Facebook posts that her client published from Krasnodar about a year ago. In one of them he showed solidarity with an opposition politician persecuted by the Russian judiciary.

On Tuesday, the Moscow opposition leader Dmitry Gudkov reported that his dacha had been searched. An employee's apartment was also affected, he wrote on Telegram.