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"The bans were not related to one thing only -- the possibility to leave the country," lawyer Ivan Safronov said.

One of Russia’s top human rights lawyers, who is representing jailed journalist Ivan Safronov, has left the country after the authorities opened a case against him for allegedly disclosing classified information about his client’s case.

Ivan Pavlov wrote on Telegram on September 7 that he was in Georgia as "restrictions imposed on me over the probe have gradually made my work impossible."

Ivan Safronov
Ivan Safronov

"I was barred from using communication tools and the Internet, talk to my clients and some of my colleagues. In general, I was forbidden from doing the things that a lawyer needs to do to be effective. The bans were not related to one thing only -- the possibility to leave the country. That was a sign showing the way out," Pavlov wrote, adding that he plans to return to Russia in the future.

Pavlov became a suspect in a criminal case on the disclosure of data with regard to Safronov’s case in April. He has rejected the accusation, calling it politically motivated.

Safronov, a former adviser to the head of Russia's space agency Roskosmos and a one-time journalist, was arrested and charged with high treason in July 2020 on allegations that he had passed secret information to the Czech Republic in 2017 about Russian arms sales in the Middle East.

Safronov has rejected the accusations against him and many of his supporters have held pickets demanding his release, saying that all case materials have been deemed classified as part of the cover-up.

Russian authorities have launched a massive crackdown on dissent in recent months, jailing dozens of opposition members, activists, and regular citizens under the guise of charges widely considered to be falsified.

Treason charges against Russian men and women, especially researchers and scientists, have become common as a way of sending a message through the academic and professional communities, critics of the government and rights activists say.

Human rights organizations have issued statements demanding Safronov’s release and expressing concerns over the intensifying crackdown on dissent in Russia.

Khasan Khalitov lives in self-imposed exile in Turkey.

An outspoken critic of Ramzan Kadyrov, the authoritarian leader of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, says his relatives are being pressured in Russia because of his activities.

Khasan Khalitov, who lives in self-imposed exile in Turkey, told RFE/RL on September 7 that police in Chechnya had detained his 75-year-old father, Gani Khalitov, and his 46-year-old brother Ramzan Khalitov, taking them from their home a day earlier without explanation.

Khasan Khalitov added that police in Moscow had apprehended his twin brother Khusein and transferred him to Chechnya.

Khalitov said that he was not officially informed of the moves, instead learning of them from residents of his village in Chechnya and anonymous bloggers.

Khalitov added that the move to pressure his relatives is most likely a response from Kadyrov and his government to the severe beating of a Kadyrov supporter in Istanbul on September 5.

Russian officials have not commented publicly on the situation.

Another self-exiled Chechen man, Ilman Mamakayev, who resides in an EU member state, told RFE/RL that police in Chechnya had detained several of his relatives last week, adding that his 73-year-old father was released over the weekend with his moustache shaved off, which is considered an act of humiliation in the region.

Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya since 2007, is frequently accused by Russian and international watchdogs of overseeing grave human rights abuses that include abductions, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

Kremlin critics say Russian President Vladimir Putin has turned a blind eye to the alleged abuses and violations of the country's constitution by Kadyrov because he relies on the former rebel commander to control separatist sentiment and violence in Chechnya, the site of two devastating post-Soviet wars and an Islamist insurgency that spread to other mostly Muslim regions in the North Caucasus.

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.

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