Jailed Russian Activist Charged With Violating 'Foreign Agent' Law

The jailed former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement, Andrei Pivovarov, has been charged with failure to provide authorities with details of his group, which had been added to "foreign agents" registry.

Pivovarov, who was arrested and placed in pretrial detention for two months last week after he was removed from a Warsaw-bound plane in St. Petersburg, wrote in a Telegram post that the charge is related to the Open Petersburg educational group that he established in 2017 and which the Justice Ministry labeled as a "foreign agent" in December.

If found guilty, Pivovarov faces a fine of up to 300,000 rubles ($4,100).

Russia's so-called "foreign agent" law was adopted in 2012 and has been modified repeatedly. It requires nongovernmental organizations that receive foreign assistance and that the government deems to be engaged in political activity to be registered, to identify themselves as "foreign agents," and to submit to audits.

Later modifications of the law targeted foreign-funded media, including RFE/RL.

On June 2, a court in the southern city of Krasnodar ruled that Pivovarov should be held for two months after he was accused of publishing a post on social media supporting a local election candidate last year on behalf of an "undesirable" organization.


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Meanwhile, on June 7, the former chairman of Open Russia, Aleksandr Solovyov, left Russia for an unspecified country, saying he feared for his safety.

Last week, police searched Solovyov's home in Moscow in a probe launched into what investigators described "as damage imposed on a building belonging to the Moscow city administration."

The search was conducted after another Kremlin critic, opposition politician and former State Duma Deputy Dmitry Gudkov was placed in custody on June 1 on suspicion he failed to pay a debt under a lease agreement for a nonresidential premise in 2015-17.

Gudkov was released on June 3 and left Russia for Ukraine.

Open Russia was financed by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin's rule.


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The organization associated with Pivovarov was based in Russia and no longer legally connected with the London-based group with the same name, which ended operations in 2017.

Leaders of the Russian-based Open Russia dissolved the group in late May after the authorities designated it an "undesirable" organization in order to protect its supporters from further "harassment" by the Russian authorities.

The "undesirable organization" law, adopted in May 2015, was part of a series of regulations pushed by the Kremlin that squeezed many nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations that received funding from foreign sources -- mainly from Europe and the United States.