An opposition group in Russia announced on Thursday that it is shutting down after authorities listed the organisation as “undesirable” as part of a multi-pronged crackdown on dissent.
The leader of Open Russia, Andrei Pivovarov, said the group funded by a self-exiled Russian tycoon was ceasing operation to protect its members from prosecution.
A 2015 Russian law made membership in “undesirable” organisations a criminal offence. The government has used the law to ban about 30 groups.
“It’s awfully sad” to close Pivovarov tweeted, adding that “an increasing number of people in the country want changes” and “Russia will be free, and it will happen very soon”.
Open Russia was funded by tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin’s rule.
In March, police briefly detained about 200 people participating in a Moscow forum Open Russia organised of independent members of municipal councils.
Pivovarov pointed to a Bill making its way through the Russian parliament that would make membership in “undesirable” organisations punishable by prison terms.