FSB Intercepts Open Russia Delegates Ahead of Conference

December 8, 2017

As Open Russia delegates from across the country make their way to the capital for the Open Russia Movement conference, due to take place on Saturday December 9, the security services have already begun intercepting participants with warnings for potential collaboration with an ‘undesirable organisation’.

Open Russia member Alexey Pliashnikov was detained at the airport in Tomsk where he was asked to sign a document saying that he will not participate in tomorrow’s event.  Pliashnikov refused to sign the document and proceeded to lecture the police officers on ‘undesirable organisations’, which the Open Russia Movement is not.

Two other Open Russia members have been detained by the security services and forced to sign documents promising that they will not participate in Saturday’s conference.  The document warns delegates that “failure to comply with this order will result in legal proceedings.”

The Open Russia Movement is a Russian civic movement that does not exist as a legal entity.  The British company Otkrytaya Rossiya and the US-based Institute of Modern Russia were officially declared ‘undesirable organisations’ in April 2017.  However, this legal status does not affect the Open Russia Movement in any way.

Open Russia founder Mikhail Khodorkovsky has commented on the attempts by the authorities to disrupt Saturday’s conference:

“This is completely stupid.  If they would have looked at the list, they’d see that no such organisation [The Open Russia Movement] exists in the West.  A Russian organisation cannot be declared ‘undesirable’.  Go ahead and try to interrupt the conference, but in that case try to think up something that actually corresponds with your own laws.”

Saturday will be the Open Russia Movement’s first conference to be held inside Russia.  The two previous conferences took place in Helsinki and Tallinn in order to avoid unnecessary interference by the security services, who have actively attempted to shut down the Movement and prosecute its activists.

The Movement are anticipating heavy interference by the authorities at tomorrow’s conference which is set to discuss the Movement’s position on the 2018 Russian presidential elections, in lights of Vladimir Putin’s announcement that he will stand for reelection in a 4th term.  The conference will also discuss the increasingly forceful behaviour of the authorities towards Open Russia Movement activists, which has made the news numerous times this year.