St. Petersburg opposition politician under investigation for working with ‘undesirable organisation’

Boris Vishnevsky. Photo: Facebook

Boris Vishnevsky. Photo: Facebook

Authorities in St. Petersburg have opened an investigation into Russian opposition politician Boris Vishnevsky for his alleged collaboration with an “undesirable organisation”, Russian media reported on Friday evening.

Vishnevsky, a deputy for liberal party Yabloko in St. Petersburg’s Legislative Assembly, told Novaya Gazeta that he was under investigation for collaborating with the independent election monitor Golos and said he had spent “half a day” explaining to prosecutors that the watchdog was not, in fact, an “undesirable organisation”.

“But the Prosecutor's Office decided to construct a convoluted, unlawful narrative about some kind of affiliation between Golos and the European Network of Election Monitoring Organisations (ENEMO)”, Vishnevsky said.

Organisations the Russian authorities deem “undesirable” are obliged to dissolve as legal entities, while individuals who work with one can face up to six years behind bars.

While Russia’s Justice Ministry added the ENEMO to its list of “undesirable organisations” in 2021, Golos itself is not on that list, having suspended its membership as part of the ENEMO shortly after the Justice Ministry’s ruling. For its part, the ENEMO has repeatedly said that, despite “morally supporting Golos’ efforts in promoting free and fair elections”, it had never operated in Russia.

Vishnevsky left Russia on Friday for a planned holiday after being questioned on Thursday, state news agency TASS said, with Yabloko’s St. Petersburg chair Alexander Shishlov inviting supporters to greet the politician with flowers at St. Petersburg’s airport upon his return on 6 May.

The Justice Ministry had previously added Vishnevsky to its list of “foreign agents” in March, citing his work with foreign media outlets and his condemnation of the war in Ukraine.

In August, police searched the homes of Golos members in regions across Russia and arrested its co-chair Grigory Melkonyants on charges of “running an extremist organisation”, with a Moscow court extending his pretrial detention to 17 July earlier in April.

Following Melkonyants’ arrest, the ENEMO condemned the persecution of Golos members, calling it a “pretext for fabricating bogus claims and further oppressing civil society activists”.

Editor in chief — Kirill Martynov. Terms of use. Privacy policy.