Since Russia invaded Ukraine, February 24, 2017, the crackdown on activists, independent media and rights organizations has intensified.
Russian opposition activist Andrei Pivovarov was sentenced to four years in prison for leading a banned pro-democracy group, the latest move in the Kremlin’s multi-pronged crackdown on opposition activists, independent mediaRights groups in the country.
Pivovarov, age 40, was the former head Open Russia, an now disbanded pro democracy group founded by an exiled businessman. Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
He was sentenced on Friday by a court in the southern Russian city of Krasnodar after being charged with “directing an undesirable organisation”, which is a criminal offence under a 2015 law.
He maintained his innocence, claiming that he was being charged because he planned to run for Parliament in September 2021.
“Andrei Pivovarov was sentenced to four years in a standard-regime penal colony,” his aides wrote on Facebook after the verdict. For eight years, the activist will be barred from any political activity.
Pivovarov, speaking from his metal cage in court said that Russia would see change soon.
“And 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,” he said.
‘Order and security’
Pivovarov, the latest opponent of President Vladimir Putin, is being sent to prison. Moscow continues to suppress any dissent while its war in Ukraine goes on.
The latest crackdown started with the arrest and imprisonment of an opposition leader Alexey NavalnyIn January 2021. After Putin sent troops into the country, it intensified. Ukraine on February 24,The Kremlin’s remaining critics were also charged with publicly denoncing the war.
Numerous opposition activists have been prosecuted and forced to comply with the authorities since then. Some have fled Russia while others are being held in prison.
All major independent media outlets were shut down or suspended. Instagram is the exception. Facebook was banned, and any criticism of Moscow’s offensive in Ukraine is outlawed.
A Moscow court placed Ilya Yashin in detention earlier this week in connection with the investigation into false information regarding the Russian military. Yashin was one prominent opposition politician who had not yet left Russia.
Also Friday, Russian authorities declared two investigative news outlets “undesirable,” outlawing their operation in Russia.
The Prosecutor General’s office told Russia’s state news agency Tass that the investigative group Bellingcat and the Russian online outlet The Insider, as well as the Czech nonprofit CEELI Institute, “pose a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order and security” of Russia.
The Insider is a Latvian news outlet that has collaborated with Bellingcat in high-profile cases like the nerve agent poisonings involving former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, and Russian opposition leader Navalny.
Both news agencies’ websites were blocked in Russia by the Russian government since the outbreak of war in Ukraine.