Russia: Judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov

Urgent Appeal

RUS 004 / 0421 / OBS 057
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Russian Federation
May 12, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary arrest and subsequent release of Ivan Pavlov, as well as the raids of his residences and office. Mr. Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer, director of the association of journalists and lawyers Team 29 and winner of the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for defending human rights in court in 2015 and of the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2018. He also founded the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information, which was designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities in 2014 and suspended its activities in 2015.

On April 30, 2021, Ivan Pavlov’s hotel room in Moscow, his apartment, his summer house and the Team 29’s office in St. Petersburg were searched by agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Investigative Committee. One of his colleagues at Team 29, Igor Dorfman, also had his flat searched for eight hours. Searches at Ivan Pavlov’s apartment and at the Team 29 office lasted 15-18 hours. According to Mr. Pavlov, the law enforcement officials confiscated almost all documents related to the case of his client, journalist Ivan Safronov [1], including those classified as attorney-client privilege. After the search in the hotel, Mr. Pavlov was detained and taken to the Investigative Committee for an interrogation.

Later on April 30, it became known that the Investigative Committee accused Ivan Pavlov of “disclosing the data of preliminary investigation” (Article 310 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation) in relation to Ivan Safronov’s case. The criminal case against Ivan Pavlov was initiated earlier on April 27, 2021, by the head of the main investigative department of the Investigative Committee Denis Kolesnikov, based on a report sent by the FSB and signed by the director of the FSB Alexander Bortnikov personally. According to the Investigative Committee, Ivan Pavlov illegally provided the “Vedomosti" newspaper with an accusatory order against Ivan Safronov and disclosed information about a secret witness. In fact, Mr. Pavlov reported to the press about violations of the law committed by the investigation in the case.

On the same day, after the charges were presented to Mr. Pavlov, the Basmanny District Court of Moscow ruled on the case and imposed restrictive measures against him. According to the Court’s decision, Ivan Pavlov is not allowed, until further notice from the court, to use any means of communication including the internet, and to contact the witnesses within his case. Mr. Pavlov was released on the same day.

The Observatory points out that Ivan Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer who defends those facing trumped-up charges of “disclosing state secrets”, “high treason”, or “espionage”. Team 29 has also represented Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) and his Citizens’ Rights Defense Foundation (FZPG) in a case filed by a prosecutor in Moscow requesting the group be labelled as an “extremist” organisation. The restrictive measures imposed by the Basmanny District Court of Moscow will make it difficult for Ivan Pavlov to continue defending his high-profile clients and participate in other criminal cases.

The Observatory recalls that Ivan Pavlov had already been the target of judicial harassment by the authorities and the FSB because of his work as a human rights attorney and in the context of Ivan Safronov’s defence. In August 2020, in response to a complaint made by the FSB, the Ministry of Justice requested the St. Petersburg Bar Association to initiate disciplinary proceedings against him because of his refusal to sign a non-disclosure statement in Safronov’s case. However, the St. Petersburg Bar Association did not take any further action against him.

The Observatory condemns the judicial harassment against Ivan Pavlov as it seems to be only aimed at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities. The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to immediately drop all charges against Ivan Pavlov, and to put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Ivan Pavlov and all other human rights defenders in Russia;

ii. Lift the restriction measures against Ivan Pavlov, and put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against him and all other human rights defenders in Russia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.


• Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @KremlinRussia_E
• Mr. Mikhail Mishustin, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter:@GovernmentRF
• Mr. Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, E-mail:, Twitter: @RussiaMFA
• Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. E-mail:
• Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. E-mail:
• Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of the Russian Federation in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, May 12, 2021

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel. FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
• Tel. OMCT: +41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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