Russian police arrest Russian opposition leader aboard Polish airline in St. Petersburg

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The LOT Polish Airlines plane carrying opposition leader Andrei Pivovarov was grounded as it prepared to take off from St. Petersburg airport, according to information gathered by portal Onet. Reportedly, Russian police officers boarded the aircraft and detained the opposition politician. The Federal Security Service (FSB) claimed that Pivovarov was on their wanted list.

The detainee is the former general director of the “Open Russia” organization which has criticized the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin on many occasions. The organization was closed some time ago in fear for the safety of the staff working with the opposition leader.

Pivovar himself had stated on social media that he was leaving Russia to go on holiday. He has also said that he was unaware of being on the FSB’s wanted list. Prior to boarding the plane, he had gone through border and airport control without any issues. He was meant to fly to Warsaw.

Following Pivovar’s arrest, his Twitter account informed that his co-workers will now publish posts because he was forbidden to use his phone.

The account has published a letter which was also given to Pivovar’s lawyer. According to it, Pivovarov is charged with cooperating with “an undesired organization”. The activist emphasized that the organization had ceased operations and because of this, the charges against him were unfounded.

Although Open Russia is no longer functioning, its former representatives and Pivovar’s friends stated that the opposition activist has been transferred to the Investigative Committee in Petersburg. His lawyer has also told Interfax agency, that he will most likely be transported to Krasnoyarsk in Siberia on Tuesday, where his interrogation will continue.

Title Image: Andrei Pivovarov being arrested by Russian police in St. Petersburg. Source: Andrei Pivovarov Twitter account. Photographer: Ruslan Terekhov

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