House searches, an arrest on an airport runway: the Russian authorities are tightening their course against opposition members. They speak of a “reprisal”.
A few months before the parliamentary elections in Russia, the authorities continue to crack down on Russian opposition members with the utmost severity. Police searched the homes of several activists on Tuesday after the former head of the disbanded opposition organization Open Russia was taken from an airplane by security forces on Monday at St. Petersburg airport. There are raids on him and two of his supporters, wrote former MP and Kremlin critic Dmitri Gudkov on the online service Telegram.
“I don’t know the formal reason for this,” he added. The police also searched his father’s former office, Gennadi Gudkow, who was also a former MP. There has been nothing there for eight years, tweeted Gennadi Gudkow, who lives abroad. It is a “reprisal against the entire Gudkow family”.
Police stop the aircraft shortly before takeoff
It was only on Monday evening that the Russian police took the opposition Andrei Piwowarow off the plane shortly before his flight to Warsaw. Piwovarov is the former head of the opposition movement Open Russia, which broke up last week due to mounting pressure from Russian authorities. Open Russia was once founded by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
According to Piwowarov’s team, his home was searched overnight. The investigators therefore opened a case of “cooperation with an undesirable organization” – an indictment that can be punished with up to six years in prison. Pivovarov is expected to be relocated to the southern Russian city of Krasnodar, where the investigation into him has started.
The pressure on the Russian opposition rose sharply in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in September. The authorities are also taking action against the organizations of the imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny after they had been tolerated for years.