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Russian Activist Pivovarov's Pretrial Detention Extended

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

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

The court in the southern city of Krasnodar on July 21 ordered Pivovarov be remanded in custody until October 29.

Noted Russian rights defenders and opposition politicians Lev Ponomaryov, Yulia Galyamina, Aleksei Minyailo, Marina Litvinovich had traveled from Moscow to Krasnodar to support Pivovarov, but the court session was held behind closed doors.

Pivovarov was detained after being removed from a Warsaw-bound plane just before takeoff from St. Petersburg in late May.

He is facing charges of "participating in the activities of an undesirable group," an accusation he denies and which stems from a 6-year-old Russian law that has repeatedly been used to target critical voices.

Leaders of the Russian-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 political 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.