I.n Russia it is becoming increasingly difficult to find opposition members at large: one Kremlin critic after another is being eliminated. Last Monday, Andrei Piwovarow, the former coordinator of the Open Russia Movement, was hit. This has been considered “undesirable” in Russia since 2017. Last week, Piwowarow disbanded the movement because of the risk of prison terms of up to six years for people linked to it by those in power. Then Piwowarow himself became the target: on Monday evening the police and the FSB secret service stopped the plane of the Polish airline LOT, which was supposed to fly Piwowarow from Saint Petersburg to Warsaw, immediately before take-off and took the opponent of the Kremlin out of the plane.
Piwowarow had passed all the controls without any problems; it was probably about setting a terrifying example. Now Piwowarov is accused of working with an “undesirable organization” and was taken to Krasnodar in southwest Russia, where a court ordered pre-trial detention. Pivovarov said that the security forces and the Kremlin knew that he wanted to take part in the Duma elections in September. “We see a tendency that anyone who announces that they want to run for the elections starts having problems.”
The fight between father and son Gudkov
This also happened with Dmitry Gudkov. The opposition politician was arrested on Tuesday. His case also illustrates how the repression in Russia is steadily increasing and the scope for activities beyond the Kremlin has become ever smaller. Gudkow is 41 years old, but already politically experienced. He studied journalism and was trained at the Foreign Ministry Diplomatic School, World Economy Department. He came into contact with politics early on, through his father Gennadij, who once led a small party that was absorbed into Just Russia in 2007, a Kremlin project that was supposed to win votes from the left. Dmitrij Gudkov became the press spokesman for Just Russia. He and his father helped organize protests against the rigging of the 2011 Duma elections, and afterwards were among a handful of MPs who did real opposition work with Just Russia. Gennadij Gudkov was soon stripped of the mandate, and Just Russia excluded father and son in 2013.
Dmitrij Gudkow continued as a non-attached, soon lonely MP, as a “white raven”, as he told the FAZ. He stayed away from the vote on the annexation of Crimea and voted against one repressive law after the other, including against “undesirable organizations”. In the covert war against Ukraine, Gudkov, as a member of parliament, asked the Ministry of Defense how many Russian soldiers had been wounded and died in the neighboring country (answer: You have no right to disclose information about citizens). The media, loyal to the Kremlin, agitated against the “traitor”. In 2016, against all odds, Gudkov tried to win a Duma mandate for the liberal Yabloko party in Moscow, but failed because of the candidate from the power party United Russia.