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Justice Ministry takes St. Petersburg bar association to court over its refusal to expel prominent lawyer Ivan Pavlov

Source: TASS

The St. Petersburg branch of the Russian Justice Ministry is taking the city’s bar chamber to court over its refusal to take disciplinary action against prominent human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov.

Pavlov’s defense attorney Alexander Meleshko told the state news agency TASS that the lawsuit was filed over the St. Petersburg bar association’s refusal to satisfy the Justice Ministry’s petition to disbar Pavlov due to the fact that he declined to sign a non-disclosure agreement regarding the treason case against former journalist Ivan Safronov.

A hearing on the Justice Ministry’s lawsuit against the bar association is scheduled for August 24. 

Pavlov and Safronov’s other lawyers refused to sign non-disclosure agreements in connection with his case in the summer of 2020. In turn, the Russian Justice Ministry appealed to the Moscow and St. Petersburg bar chambers with requests for disciplinary action against the members of Safronov’s defense team. Both bar chambers refused.

In April 2021, the Russian authorities detained Ivan Pavlov on charges of disclosing information from a pretrial investigation. Pavlov was banned from using the Internet and mobile communications ahead of the trial, as well as from contacting witnesses in the case against him (including Safronov). If convicted, he faces up to three months in jail and disbarment. 

In July, the human rights group Team 29, which was headed by Ivan Pavlov, announced that it was disbanding to protect its members and supporters from criminal prosecution. This came just days after Russia’s censorship agency blocked Team 29’s website for allegedly publishing content from an “undesirable organization.”