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."
"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.