The case of Andrey Pivovarov as an example of Kremlin’s massive campaign of political repressions

December 17, 2021

Andrey Pivovarov was arrested on 31 May and sent to a Krasnodar pre-trial detention centre on 2 June. Andrey was already on board a plane, travelling to Poland. He had gone through security checks, got on the plane, and when the plane was ready for take-off, FSB officers mounted the plane and informed Andrey that he was on the federal authorities’ wanted list and was now under arrest.

On 27 May, it was announced that ‘Otkrytka’ was being disbanded to ensure the safety of its members. On 31 May Andrey was detained, but a case against him had been actually opened on 29 May. According to the Law on Undesirable Organisations, an individual is exempt from criminal responsibility if he or she have voluntarily left the said organisation. If the organisation in question has been dissolved, they clearly can no longer be part of it.

Andrey has already spent six long months under arrest. He has been charged under Article 284.1 – for “running an ‘undesirable’ organisation’ – and faces up to six years in prison. His case is based on 34 posts on his public Facebook page, and a “political science expert’s analysis”. The 34 posts had been selected according to some very obscure principle, but importantly, include appeals to help Russian doctors during a pandemic, a fairly innocuous criticism of St. Petersburg City Council Speaker Makarov and a discussion of voting on the amendments to the Constitution. Back in June, the only charge against him was based on one of his Facebook posts which, as was later successfully proved by his lawyers, had not been written by him, but by his social media manager.

Andrey is held in the Krasnodar Region, since, according to the investigation, he was physically present in Krasnodar at the time of the last repost.

We believe that Andrey was jailed for his plan to run for the State Duma. He was going to stand in a single-mandate constituency in Moscow and made no secret of it. Negotiations with the ‘Yabloko’ Party were already under way. After his arrest, ‘Yabloko’ included Andrey in their list of candidates for Krasnodar to contest a rather ‘hopeless’ seat, which would, nevertheless, give his team an opportunity to conduct the first political prisoner election campaign in Russia.

In November, the first hearing of his case took place. As a result of the hearing, his detention was extended by another six months. The lawyers filed a request to change the court’s jurisdiction as Andrey has no connection to the Krasnodar Region. He was born and raised in St. Petersburg. Over the past few years he has lived in two cities: St. Petersburg and Moscow. The hearing took place on the 11 November. Within 10 days there was to be another hearing in the Regional Court, but then Andrey’s case was mysteriously ‘lost’ by the courts. The Regional Court said that they had sent it to the Leninskiy Court for revision, while the Leninskiy Court insisted that they had not received it. The delay could provide an opportunity for his lawyers to try and get a transfer for Andrey from Krasnodar to St. Petersburg, since there is clearly no “justice” to be had in Kuban. The case investigators openly call Andrey an ‘enemy of the state’. The press are not allowed to attend court sessions. In addition, it is difficult for journalists, human rights activists and Andrey’s friends to travel to another region every time there is a hearing.

As regards Andrey’s detention conditions, he is being held in a special unit in complete isolation. There is no TV or radio in his cell. The only news he receives comes from his lawyers and letters from friends. Andrey has not been allowed a single visit from his relatives or a single phone call over the past six months. His mother, who is 74, travels by plane from St. Petersburg to attend hearings in Krasnodar. She is allowed to attend, but is not allowed to talk to her son. Andrey’s father is 76 and too frail to travel to Krasnodar. Andrey also has a 5-year-old son, who he is not allowed to communicate with.

We demand an end to Andrey’s criminal prosecution. Free Andrey Pivovarov!