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Russia: 'Unjust and cruel' prison sentence handed to opposition activist

© KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV via Getty Images

Andrei Pivovarov, former head of the UK-based Otkrytaya Rossiya (Open Russia) movement sentenced to four years in prison

‘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’ - Andrei Pivovarov

‘Andrei should be immediately and unconditionally released’ - Marie Struthers

In response to a Russian court sentencing of opposition activist and human rights defender, Andrei Pivovarov, to four years in prison on charges brought under the country’s repressive ‘undesirable organisations’ legislation, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“Andrei Pivovarov’s unjust prosecution and cruel prison sentence are part of a campaign by Russian authorities to weaponise the Criminal Code against anyone who dares to exercise their right to freedom of expression. Both the verdict today and the criminal article under which it was issued are shameful.

Andrei should be immediately and unconditionally released. The authorities must also urgently repeal the legislation on ’undesirable organisations’ and ensure people can exercise their right to association without fear of reprisals. This law is clearly not concerned with criminal activity, but with repressing any form of dissent or criticism of the government. It simply should not exist.”

In his final statement in court on 11 July, Andrei Pivovarov, said:

“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, and they are not far off. See you in our new, desirable and open Russia. We will pull through!”

Sentencing Andrei Pivovarov

The Leninsky District Court of Krasnodar, southern Russia, sentenced Andrei Pivovarov, the former head of the now-disbanded UK-based Otkrytaya Rossiya (Open Russia) movement.

The organisation was founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The charges relate to at least 30 social media posts he shared about the group’s activities.

The crackdown came after the Russian authorities banned the Open Russia in April 2017, which had ceased all work several days before his arrest on 31 May 2021, when he was taken off a flight from Saint Petersburg to Warsaw and put in pre-trial detention.

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