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Jailed Russian Journalist Safronov Unable To Talk To His Lawyer Due To Bizarre Twist

Lawyer Ivan Pavlov arrives to attend a court hearing in an extremism case against the Anti-Corruption Foundation in Moscow on June 9.

MOSCOW -- Jailed Russian journalist Ivan Safronov has been banned from talking to his lawyer, Ivan Pavlov, who has himself been charged with illegally revealing details of the case launched against the journalist.

Pavlov wrote on Telegram on July 26 that because investigators questioned Safronov last week as a witness in the case launched against him, he, in accordance with an earlier decision by a Moscow court, cannot now communicate with his client.

Ivan Safronov
Ivan Safronov

Pavlov, who is one of Russia’s top human rights lawyers, known for representing jailed Kremlin critic Aleksei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), was charged in late April with disclosing classified information related to an ongoing investigation.

The Investigative Committee said later that the case against the 50-year-old lawyer stems from his public statements about Safronov's case, the materials of which have been officially classified.

Pavlov led the Komanda 29 association of human rights lawyers, which announced on July 18 that it had suspended its work to protect its members and supporters from criminal prosecution.

The announcement came three days after the Prosecutor-General's Office accused the group of having ties to Spolecnost Svobody Informace, a Czech-based nongovernmental organization, and of distributing its materials.

The Kremlin has declared the Czech organization “undesirable,” putting any Russian individual or entity that cooperates with it at risk of administrative or criminal penalties.

The 31-year-old Safronov covered the defense industry for the newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti before becoming an adviser to the head of Russia's space agency Roskosmos, Dmitry Rogozin.

He was arrested in July 2020 for allegedly passing secret information to the Czech Republic in 2017 about Russian arms sales in the Middle East.

Safronov has rejected the accusations against him; many of his supporters have held pickets demanding his release.

Last week, Safronov wrote an article published by Vedomosti that slammed Russian authorities, including the judiciary, for their treatment of suspects and methods used in investigating espionage amid a wave of cases aimed at muzzling dissent.