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Statement by a rapporteur on the arrest of Andrei Pivoravov

Alexandra Louis (France, ALDE), Rapporteur for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on follow-up to Resolution 2362 (2021) on Restrictions on NGO activities in Council of Europe member States, has expressed great concern at the arrest of Russian activist Andrei Pivovarov at St Petersburg Airport, on board a LOT Polish Airlines plane which was about to take off.

“It is unacceptable that Mr Pivovarov, a former Executive Director of the NGO Open Russia, was arrested in connection with the application of the Russian law of 23 May 2015 on ‘undesirable organisations’, which the Assembly and other Council of Europe bodies have repeatedly criticised. This is all the more unacceptable as Mr Pivovarov is charged with ‘participation in the activities of a foreign NGO considered as undesirable’, punishable by six years in prison, when his organisation, which is deemed ‘undesirable’, has recently announced the decision to close itself down. Furthermore, I am shocked by the circumstances in which this arrest was made.”

“This case confirms a continuing trend of shrinking space for civil society in Russia. I therefore call on the Russian authorities to release Mr Pivovarov as soon as possible and to drop all charges against him.”

“In line with Assembly Resolution 2362 (2021), the Russian authorities should repeal or amend laws that impede the free and independent work of NGOs, including the law on ‘undesirable organisations’, and refrain from adopting new laws which impose unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the activities of NGOs.”