A top opposition figure in Russia has been awarded a prison sentence. Andrei Pivovarov has been sent to four years in jail for directing an 'undesirable' organization. He formerly headed the Open Russia Group, a political organization in Russia that was founded by exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Pivovarov claimed that charges against him were made last year as he was to run for parliament in September 2021.
Pivovarov Was Pulled Off A Warsaw-Bound Plane in May 2021
He was pulled off a Warsaw-bound plane at St. Petersburg's airport just before takeoff in May 2021. He was taken to the southern city of Krasnodar, where he was accused of supporting a local candidate on behalf of an "undesirable" organization. The charges were based on his social media posts supporting independent candidates in Krasnodar's municipal election, according to New York Post.
Open Russia Group Was Declared Undesirable
Pivovarov has also been banned from political and social activities. In 2017, Open Russia Group was declared undesirable, which means that people working with the organisation are subject to criminal prosecution.
Open Russia Group Still Operates From London
Citing a series of Facebook posts officials stated that the group still operates from London. Pivovarov has also been criticizing Russia's secret agency FSB and giving support to protestors who were opposing the government.
"In short, he was imprisoned for reposting on Facebook and communicating with journalists," Pivovarov's team said. Despite the charges, Pivovarov remained hopeful, maintaining that he remains a "free man", according to The Moscow Times.
In the final statement before the court, Pivovarov stated that the progress can't be stopped. "'Even if now those who stand for the future are trampled and imprisoned, I know that progress cannot be stopped, changes for the better are inevitable."
It came as Russian President Vladimir Putin is widening the crackdown against opposition leaders in the country. Alexei Navalny, who was previously poisoned with Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, was jailed in January 2021. Since then, activists and opposition figures in Russia have been facing prosecution from the authorities.