Russia’s Justice Ministry seeks disciplinary action against defense lawyers in the Safronov case
The Russian Justice Ministry’s Moscow Department has asked the Moscow Bar Association to initiate disciplinary proceedings against four of the lawyers defending jailed journalist Ivan Safronov, a fifth lawyer from Safronov’s defense team, the head of the human rights organization “Team 29,” Ivan Pavlov, told Interfax.
The Justice Ministry is seeking disciplinary action lawyers Dmitry Katchev, Danil Nikiforov, Sergey Malyukin, and Oleg Yeliseyev over their refusal to sign non-disclosure agreements on July 13 — the day Safronov was formally charged with treason (he was arraigned in court and jailed for two months on the day of his arrest, July 7).
“When they refused, the investigator drew up an act against each of the defense lawyers in the presence of witnesses, and now this fact is being used as a reason for disciplinary proceedings against the lawyers,” Pavlov said.
“We consider this a means of pressure on Ivan Safronov’s defense,” he added.
Ivan Safronov previously worked as an investigative journalist reporting on Russia’s military-industrial complex for the Russian business newspapers Kommersant and Vedomosti. He went to work as a communications advisor to the head of Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos in May 2020.
On July 7, federal agents arrested him on treason charges. According to the investigation, Safronov passed classified information to Czech intelligence. Safronov has denied any guilt, while his defense lawyers maintain that he is being persecuted for his previous journalistic work. Moscow’s Lefortovo Court jailed him for two months that same day.
Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has not disclosed any details about the charges against Safronov, under the pretext that this information is classified. The substance of the charges hasn’t even been disclosed to his lawyers. Safronov’s defense lawyers refused to sign non-disclosure agreements so they could continue to draw public attention to the journalist’s case.