Russia, opponent Pivovarov transferred to penal colony known for abuse

He will remain in solitary confinement until April 30. Since his arrest at the end of May 2021, he has only been able to meet his mother once and make a handful of phone calls

Russian oppositionist Andrei Pivovarov was transferred to Karelia Region’s Pelane Colony No. 7 in Segezha, a detention facility that has been the subject of multiple torture allegations in the past, in a ward where he is barred from visits and phone calls from relatives and friends and where she will remain until April 30, Tatiana Usmanova, collaborator of the former executive director of “Open Russia”, the organization financed by Mikhail Khodorkovsky to support independent politicians and civil society in Russia, told Novaya Gazeta Europe.

For more than a month there had been no news of Pivovarov who instead had already arrived in Karelia on 24 January. Amnesty International had also launched an alarm in recent days to report his disappearance. “Andrei Pivovarov continues to be in complete isolation. He has been detained for almost two years. During this time, he only had one meeting with his mother, lasting an hour and a half, and only a few phone calls. We all expected that with his transfer to a penal colony things would have gotten easier, but that’s not the case”, Usmanova denounced.

The 41-year-old dissident was sentenced to four years in prison last July for activities associated with “undesirable” organizations. In November, the sentence was upheld on appeal. Against him, 34 posts published on his Facebook page were used, in which, among other things, they asked for help from doctors during the pandemic, or discussed the amendments to the Constitution introduced by Putin in 2020. Pivovarov was arrested on 31 May 2021, shortly after the closure of the organization he headed, undesirable since 2017. “It is my intention to run for the Duma the only reason for my arrest. The goal of the authorities is to deprive me, under any pretext, of the opportunity to be elected in Moscow, where I would certainly have won. In other words, they have limited my constitutional right and that of the citizens,” he wrote. FSB agents had picked him up on board a plane shortly before take-off from St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo airport and headed for Warsaw.

Following several charges against the director of penal colony number 7 for fraud and various other types of abuse, he was sentenced in 219 to two and a half years in prison after being found guilty of abuse of power.

In late December, the Russian authorities had announced the transfer of Pivovarov from a prison in Krasnodar to a transit prison in St. Petersburg, from which he was then sent to an unnamed center. Only today have they publicly identified it as Segezha’s Ik-7.

The transfer of detainees to Russia, which takes days, weeks or even months, is known as “etap”. It takes place on special trains, on board overcrowded compartments with little air exchange. Inmates cannot wash themselves and have limited access to food and toilets. When the train stops at a station, prisoners can be temporarily transferred to transit prisons.