Russian security forces detained Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer who is defending Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in an extremism case, one of his colleagues said on Friday.
“Ivan Pavlov has been detained, searches are under way. The FSB (Federal Security Service) is working,” Evgeny Smirnov, a lawyer from Pavlov’s team, said on Facebook.
Pavlov, who as a lawyer specialises in treason, espionage and other sensitive cases, is accused of disclosing classified information relating to an ongoing investigation, he added.
That offence is punishable by up to three months in jail, Pavlov’s legal team said.
Pavlov, who is based in St. Petersburg, was detained in a Moscow hotel, the TASS news agency said citing an unnamed source.
On Thursday, Pavlov represented Navalny’s FBK in a Moscow court hearing convened to consider a request from the Moscow prosecutor to declare the group an extremist organisation.
The hearing was held behind closed doors as authorities say the case contains classified information. Pavlov spoke to reporters outside the court building.
Meanwhile, in another development, Russia’s financial monitoring agency said on Friday it had added jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny’s network of regional campaign offices to a list of organisations involved in “terrorism and extremism”.
Allies of Navalny said on Thursday they were disbanding the network as the authorities sought to ban them.
A Moscow court is also considering whether to declare Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) “extremist”, a ruling that would give Russian authorities the power to jail activists and freeze bank accounts.
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest political rival, is serving a 2-1/2 year jail sentence for parole violations on an earlier embezzlement conviction that he says was politically motivated.
Pressure has also been mounting on organisations associated with Navalny since he was arrested in January and jailed the following month.
Last year, Navalny survived an attack with a nerve agent that he blamed on Putin. Russian authorities denied any involvement and questioned whether he was even poisoned.
Photo: Ivan Pavlov (C), lawyer of the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) speaks to media at the Moscow City Court in Moscow, Russia. EPA-EFE/SERGEI ILNITSKY