Pavel Zelensky, a member of Alexey Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), has pleaded guilty to extremism charges and refused legal representation. This was announced by FBK director Ivan Zhdanov in a YouTube video uploaded on Thursday, February 18.
In the video, Zhdanov maintained that Zelensky was “obviously under pressure” in pre-trial detention. “We really fear for the possibility of protecting him legally. The fact is that he […], in writing, refused a lawyer and admitted his guilt in full,” Zhdanov said.
However, on Friday, February 19, Marina Litvinovich — a member of Moscow’s Public Monitoring Commission, who visited Zelensky in pre-trial detention — wrote on Telegram that Pavel Zelesnky pleaded guilty “deliberately, no one was pressing him.”
“He said that he has no intention of walking back his tweets and says that this is his position. Having pleaded guilty, he’s partially counting on the possibility of softening the measures of restraint against him, for example, house arrest,” Litvinovich said.
According to Zhdanov, the FBK has sent Zelensky a new lawyer and plans to “deal” with the situation. Earlier, Zelensky was represented by Mansur Gilmanov — a lawyer from the international human rights group “Agora.”
Pavel Zelensky was arrested on January 15, 2021, and remanded in custody on charges of inciting extremism over two posts he made on Twitter about about the death of Irina Slavina, a Russian journalist who died by suicide in October of last year.
In one of the two posts, Zelensky wrote that he hates Russian President Vladimir Putin, adding that “you can consider my words a call.”