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AP Interview: Kremlin Breaking down on dissent before vote

Russian governments are cracking down on dissent prior to a critical parliamentary election in September, in what a top Kremlin critic on Tuesday described as an effort to sideline competitions.

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AP Interview: Kremlin Breaking down on dissent before vote

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a Russian tycoon who transferred to London after spending a decade in Russia on charges widely regarded as political revival for hard President Vladimir Putin's rule,'' said the most recent moves against resistance activists represented the authorities' concern regarding the waning popularity of the primary Kremlin-directed party, United Russia.

Khodorkovsky told The Associated Press in an interview over Zoom the election is an"theatrical performance, where any candidates who the government is not pleased with will not be permitted to run" He explained that the police are rising repression to stifle any essential voices prior to the Sept. 19 parliamentary election, including activists of the Open Russian motion he financed.

Andrei Pivovarov, the mind of Open Russia that dissolved itself , was pulled off a Warsaw-bound airplane at St. Petersburg's airport before takeoff late Monday.

At least two of his partners also had their houses searched.

Khodorkovsky said the government are taking preemptive action against the resistance, fearing the September election could cause protests.

"The government is fearful of possible protests which may emerge if they deceive too flagrantly," Khodorkovsky told the AP. "They're attempting to sanitize the governmental surroundings prior to the election"

He added he would continue to encourage opposition candidates regardless of the official strain.

Last week, Pivovarov declared that Open Russia was shut down to protect its members after Russian government designated it as"undesirable" The government has outlawed over 30 groups employing a 2015 law which forced membership from"undesirable" associations a criminal violation. Another bill currently making its way through parliament raises the punishment for members of these classes.

In a letter that his attorneys posted Tuesday about Pivovarov's Instagram accounts, he stated"that there isn't any cause for happiness, but I really don't feel despondent."

He added:"There's a strategy to place any people who have a different perspective below arrest, but these individuals are nearly all"

His attorneys said the charges against Pivovarov for helping an"undesirable" company were registered after he announced its closing.

"That is an audacious move by the Kremlin in its ongoing use of this legislation on'undesirable' associations to aim and also shut down critics," said Natalia Zviagina, the manager of the team's Moscow office. "The Russian government must finish reprisals against their political rivals as well as other critical voices in the nation."

In March, authorities briefly detained about 200 participants of a discussion of municipal council members who Open Russia helped arrange.

Putin's most determined political foe, Alexei Navalny, was detained in January upon his return from Germany, in which he'd spent five weeks recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin -- accusations which Russian officials refuse. He had been given a 2 1/2-year prison sentence in February for violating provisions of a suspended sentence originating from a 2014 embezzlement certainty he denounced as politically driven.

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