LONDON (Reuters) -A Russian court sentenced opposition activist Andrei Pivovarov to four years in jail on Friday for running an outlawed political movement, the court’s press service said in a statement.
Pivovarov is a former director of Open Russia, a now defunct opposition group linked to exiled former oil tycoon and longtime Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
Pivovarov was hauled off a plane at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport while it was taxiing for take-off to Poland in June 2021 and has been held in prison since.
Russia has intensified a broad crackdown against opponents of President Vladimir Putin since it invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, effectively silencing dissent through a wave of criminal cases and new wartime restrictions on freedom of speech.
Russia previously designated the Open Russia organisation “undesirable”, and the Khodorkovsky-linked movement shuttered its Russian operations last year in a bid to protect associates. Several Open Russia regional leaders have been handed hefty jail sentences in what supporters say are politically motivated cases.
“After reviewing the case materials and evidence submitted by the parties, the court concluded that the defendant was guilty and was sentenced to four years imprisonment,” a statement from the court in the southern city of Krasnodar said.
The ruling comes just days after another prominent Russian opposition politician, Ilya Yashin, was held in prison pending an investigation into whether he spread false information about Russia’s armed forces – charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 15 years.
(Reporting by Reuters)