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Judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov

Status: 
Судебное преследование
About the situation

On 19 July 2021, the Moscow City Court rejected Ivan Pavlov’s lawyer’s appeal and left the restriction measures against the human rights lawyer unchanged. Ivan Pavlov has been under criminal investigation since April 2021, when he was accused of “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” relating to one of his clients, former journalist Ivan Safronov.

On 30 April 2021, the human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov’s hotel room in Moscow was searched by Federal Security Service (FSB) officers, he was detained by the officers and interrogated by the Investigative Committee. His flat, summer house, the office of his organisation Team 29 and one of the organization's staff members were also searched. Later on the same day, the Basmanny District Court issued restriction measures against Ivan Pavlov, forbidding him to use any form of communication, including the internet, for any purpose, except for calling the emergency services or contacting the investigator for the case, or his relatives. The human rights lawyer has been charged with  “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” in relation to his legal representation of former journalist Ivan Safronov who is accused of high treason.

About Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer and director of Team 29, an association of lawyers and journalists. His legal work focuses on defending those wrongly accused by the security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, or espionage. He has also been working to ensure public access to government information, and with this aim founded the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information which was designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities in 2014. In 2015, Team 29 was established to provide consultation and legal aid to individuals asserting their right to receive and distribute information, defend victims abused by law enforcement and security agencies, provide recommendations on how to respond to searches, interrogations, arrests, etc. Ivan Pavlov has also contributed to the development of Russian legislation on the right to freedom of information. He received the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for defending human rights in court in 2015 and the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2018, awarded by Human Rights Watch to activists who put themselves at great risk to protect the dignity and rights of others.

21 July 2021
Ongoing pressure against human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov and Team 29 led to suspension of organisation’s work

On 19 July 2021, the Moscow City Court rejected Ivan Pavlov’s lawyer’s appeal and left the restriction measures against the human rights lawyer unchanged. Ivan Pavlov has been under criminal investigation since April 2021, when he was accused of “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” relating to one of his clients, former journalist Ivan Safronov. On 16 July 2021 Roskomnadzor blocked the website of the human rights lawyer’s organisation, Team 29, based on a request from the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. According to the notification of the Prosecutor General's Office, they identified Team 29 with an NGO called Společnost Svobody Informace registered in the Czech Republic, which is included in the list of undesirable organizations. Based on this, the Team 29 members were forced to suspend the work of the organisation in order to protect its team who may be targeted because of the connection with the  "undesirable" organization.

On 19 July 2021, the Moscow City Court rejected Ivan Pavlov’s lawyer’s appeals against the decision of the Basmanny District Court of Moscow and left the restriction measures against Ivan Pavlov unchanged, even though more than 40 lawyers filed complaints against the previous decision of the Court and 18 lawyers were in the Court hearings on 19 July. Pavlov’s lawyers provided the Court with more than 500 sureties/guarantees for Ivan Pavlov from Russian writers, professors, media workers, politicians and human rights defenders. More than 35 lawyers signed a petition demanding to stop the prosecution of Ivan Pavlov.

On 30 April 2021, Ivan Pavlov was indicted for “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” (Article 310 of the Criminal Code) in relation to his legal representation of former journalist Ivan Safronov who was accused of high treason. If convicted, Ivan Pavlov may be imprisoned for up to three months. On the same day, the Basmanny District Court issued restriction measures against the human rights lawyer, forbidding him to use any form of communication, including the internet, for any purpose, except for calling the emergency services or contacting the investigator for the case, or his relatives. Although he is forbidden to use any form of communication, Ivan Pavlov continues his legal representation in relation to  cases he has worked on before the investigation against him.

On 16 July 2021, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media (Roskomnadzor) blocked the website of Team 29 based on a request from the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation. According to the members of Team 29,  the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation linked Team 29 with Czech non-governmental organization “Society of Free Information” (Společnost Svobody Informace) that had been declared "undesirable" in Russia. Six years ago, Ivan Pavlov was one of the founders of a Czech NGO, but, according to him, it has nothing in common with Team 29’s activity. On 18 July 2021, members of Team 29 suspended the work of the organisation, because they were afraid of the criminal prosecution of its members and of its supporters, even though they rejected the accusations made against them. Team 29 are going to remove all of its online content including all human rights brochures and legal documents in order to avoid any risks and its lawyers will continue representing their clients in a personal capacity. According to a lawyer from Team 29, the website of organisation was visited by 71,000 users per month.

On 8 July 2021, the Moscow City Court considered appeals of the illegal decisions of the Basmanny District Court of Moscow relating to the searches of Ivan Pavlov’s flat, summer house, hotel room, the office of his organisation, Team 29, and one of the organisation's staff members, which took place on 30 July. According to the appeal, during the searches, the Federal Security Service (FSB) officers seized equipment and documents, which are not related to the investigation against Ivan Pavlov and contain confidential legal communications between him and his clients. Despite the lawyer’s arguments, the Court rejected the appeal and found the searches were based on legal procedures.

Front Line Defenders condemns the ongoing judicial prosecution of human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov and members of the organisation Team 29. It believes that the continued harassment and trial to obstruct the work of Ivan Pavlov and Team 29 is in reprisal for Ivan Pavlov’s and his colleagues’ legitimate human rights work and practicing their legal profession. Front Line Defenders reiterates that these actions undermine access to effective and independent legal assistance to protect human rights in Russia.

30 April 2021
Judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov

On 30 April 2021, the human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov’s hotel room in Moscow was searched by Federal Security Service (FSB) officers, he was detained by the officers and interrogated by the Investigative Committee. His flat, summer house, the office of his organisation Team 29 and one of the organization's staff members were also searched. Later on the same day, the Basmanny District Court issued restriction measures against Ivan Pavlov, forbidding him to use any form of communication, including the internet, for any purpose, except for calling the emergency services or contacting the investigator for the case, or his relatives. The human rights lawyer has been charged with  “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” in relation to his legal representation of former journalist Ivan Safronov who is accused of high treason.

Download the urgent appeal.

Ivan Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer and director of Team 29, an association of lawyers and journalists. His legal work focuses on defending those wrongly accused by the security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, or espionage. He has also been working to ensure public access to government information, and with this aim founded the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information which was designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities in 2014. In 2015, Team 29 was established to provide consultation and legal aid to individuals asserting their right to receive and distribute information, defend victims abused by law enforcement and security agencies, provide recommendations on how to respond to searches, interrogations, arrests, etc. Ivan Pavlov has also contributed to the development of Russian legislation on the right to freedom of information. He received the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for defending human rights in court in 2015 and the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2018, awarded by Human Rights Watch to activists who put themselves at great risk to protect the dignity and rights of others.

On 30 April 2021, Federal Security Service (FSB) officers searched the hotel room of Ivan Pavlov in Moscow. Following this, the human rights lawyer was then detained by the officers and interrogated by the Investigative Committee. On the same day, law enforcement officials searched the office of the organisation Team 29, the home of the organisation’s IT specialist Igor Dorfman, which lasted 10 hours, and the home of Ivan Pavlov’s wife Ekaterina Pavlova, as well as Ivan Pavlov’s summer house in the Vyborg district of the Leningrad region. The lawyer who was present at the search of the Team 29 office signed a non-disclosure agreement, stating he would not discuss details of the search.

Following the interrogation by the Investigative Committee, Ivan Pavlov was indicted for “disclosure of the data of a preliminary investigation” in the case of Ivan Safronov under Article 310 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. The criminal case was opened against the human rights lawyer based on a report signed by the head of the FSB, Alexander Bortnikov. According to the investigation, Ivan Pavlov shared a copy of the indictment against Ivan Safronov with the newspaper Vedomosti, and that he told reporters in front of the Lefortovo court that an anonymous witness appeared in the case against Ivan Safronov.

Later the same day, 30 April 2021, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow issued restriction measures against Ivan Pavlov. According to the measures, Ivan Pavlov is forbidden to use any form of communication, including the internet, for any purpose, except for calling the emergency services or contacting the investigator for the case, or his relatives. These restrictions will remain in place until the court orders they are revoked or the conditions changed.

Ivan Pavlov had traveled to Moscow to attend the court hearing of his client, Ivan Safronov, a former journalist at the Kommersant and Vedomosti newspapers, who was arrested on allegations of high treason. Investigators believe Ivan Safronov disclosed secret information to a Czech intelligence agent working undercover in Moscow as a newspaper reporter, however Ivan Safronov and his supporters have rejected the allegation, saying it is politically motivated. Ivan Pavlov and his colleagues from Team 29 are also representing opposition politician Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his Citizens' Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG) in a case filed by a prosecutor in Moscow requesting the group be labelled as an “extremist” organisation.  On 27 April 2021, the Moscow City Court approved a motion by prosecutors to suspend some of the activities of FBK and FZPG.

Ivan Pavlov previously represented a physicist Viktor Kudryavtsev, also charged with high treason. Viktor Kudryavtsev died of cancer on 29 April 2021, whilst his trial was pending. A day before he was detained, on 29 April 2021, Ivan Pavlov accused the FSB of causing Viktor Kudryavtsev's death, calling it "an example of how the secret services are literally killing Russian science in general".

Ivan Pavlov has previously been subjected to harassment from the authorities in relation to his human rights work. In August 2020, in response to a complaint made by the FSB against Ivan Pavlov, the Ministry of Justice requested the St. Petersburg Bar Association to initiate disciplinary proceedings against the human rights lawyer in relation to his refusal to sign a non-disclosure statement in Ivan Safronov's case. According to the human rights lawyer, the reason was that he did not agree to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the preliminary investigation on the case. However, the St. Petersburg Bar Association did not take action to disbar the  human rights lawyer in response to the complaint.
Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned by the judicial prosecution of human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov,  the searches of his hotel room and his properties, the home of his colleague and the office of Team 29.  The organisation believes these actions will have a chilling effect on the work of lawyers and human rights defenders in Russia as they undermine access to effective and independent legal assistance to protect human rights. Front Line Defenders condemns the judicial prosecution and continued harassment  of Ivan Pavlov in reprisal for his legitimate human rights work and practicing his profession