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Journalists, Writers Come To Defense Of Russian Rights Lawyer

Ivan Pavlov speaks to the media next to the entrance of Russia's Investigative Committee in Moscow on April 30.
Ivan Pavlov speaks to the media next to the entrance of Russia's Investigative Committee in Moscow on April 30.

More than 80 Russian journalists, writers, historians, and translators have issued an open letter in support of prominent defense attorney Ivan Pavlov, who was detained in Moscow on April 30 and accused of disclosing classified information about the ongoing investigation of former journalist Ivan Safronov.

"The persecution of Ivan Pavlov and the seizure of confidential case files is an act of terror directed not only at Pavlov but at the entire law community and an attempt to drive Pavlov out of the Ivan Safronov case," the open letter published on May 2 said.

The signatories of the letter represent the Moscow PEN Club and the Free Speech Association.

Pavlov, 50, is one of Russia's leading human rights lawyers and the head of the legal-aid foundation Team 29. Law enforcement officers searched the Team 29 office in St. Petersburg, the home of the group's IT specialist, and the apartment of Pavlov's wife.

Safronov is accused of treason and has been in pretrial detention since July 2020. Authorities say he gave classified information about Russian arms sales in the Middle East to the Czech Republic, an accusation that Safronov denies.

Pavlov has also been representing the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which was created by imprisoned opposition politician Aleksei Navalny and which Russian authorities are pushing to have declared an "extremist" organization.

In a statement on April 30, Amnesty International described Pavlov as "one of the country's most courageous lawyers" and said his detention was "a travesty of justice."

Pavlov also defended physicist Viktor Kudryavtsev, who was also charged with treason. Kudryavtsev died of cancer on April 29 as his trial was pending.

Pavlov told journalists that the 14 months Kudryavtsev spent in pretrial detention had "completely damaged his health." The case was "an example of how the secret services are literally killing Russian science in general," he added.

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