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Russia declares Russian LGBT Network a ‘foreign agent,’ along with exiled lawyer Ivan Pavlov

The Russian Justice Ministry has made two high-profile additions to its registries of “foreign agents” — the rights group Russian LGBT Network and exiled human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov. 

The Justice Ministry declared Pavlov a “media foreign agent” on Monday, November 8, along with four other former employees from his defunct organization Team 29 — Maxim Zagovora, Valerya Vetoshkina, Elena Skvortsova, and Maxim Olenichev.

In turn, the ministry added the Russian LGBT Network to its registry of “unregistered public associations performing the functions of a ‘foreign agent’.”

Ivan Pavlov is the founder of the defunct human rights organization Team 29, which specialized in defending suspects accused of treason and espionage. The organization disbanded in July 2021, after the Russian Attorney General’s Office ordered local Internet service providers to start blocking Team 29’s website.

In April 2021, Ivan Pavlov was charged with leaking classified trial data from the treason case against one of his clients, former journalist Ivan Safronov. He fled Russia in September, after which authorities reportedly put him on a wanted list.

The LGBTQ+ rights group Russian LGBT Network is best known for helping evacuate people fleeing persecution in Chechnya. The group’s operator, the charitable foundation Sfera, was registered as a “foreign-agent NGO” in 2016. After that, it continued working as a crisis group under the name “Severny Kavkaz SOS” (North Caucasus SOS).

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