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Pretrial Detention Extended For Former Chief Of Open Russia


Andrei Pivovarov attends a court hearing in Krasnodar on June 2.

A Russian court has extended the pretrial detention of Andrei Pivovarov, the former executive director of the pro-democracy Open Russia movement.

On November 11, a court in the southern city of Krasnodar ruled that Pivovarov must be remanded in custody for another six months. He was first detained in late May when he was taken off a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg.

Pivovarov was charged with heading an “undesirable” organization, an accusation that stems from a 6-year-old law that has repeatedly been used to target critical voices. Pivovarov denies any wrongdoing.

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

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 revenge for challenging Russian President Vladimir Putin politically.

The "undesirable organization" law, adopted in 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.

The Russian State Duma on June 9 approved the third and final reading of a bill to widen the scope of the law.

Under that bill, Russian nationals and organizations located anywhere in the world will be barred from taking part in the activities of foreign NGOs labeled "undesirable" in Russia.

Based on reporting by TASS and Interfax
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