Fear of prosecution: Russian civil rights activists stop working

Status: 07/18/2021 9:41 pm

Another Russian civil rights group is giving up: the Komanda 29 legal organization represented the network of the oppositionist Navalny in court. One does not want to take the risk of prosecution.

The Russian legal organization Komanda 29 has ceased its work for fear of prosecution. “We made a tough decision,” the civil rights and advocacy group wrote on the Telegram news channel. The authorities accused her of distributing content from a Czech group that was “undesirable” in Russia.

The organization also represented the Navalny network

The organization had also represented the movement around the imprisoned Kremlin opponent Alexei Navalny. Before the withdrawal, the Russian authorities blocked the group’s website. “The next step in the attack could be criminal prosecution of members and supporters,” said Komanda 29 to justify their move. One cannot ignore this risk.

The organization was founded in 2014 by the prominent lawyer Ivan Pavlov. She had repeatedly represented defendants in high treason or espionage trials. The members should now continue their work on their own, it said.

Pavlov, who also represents a Russian journalist accused of high treason, was arrested by the Russian domestic intelligence service FSB in the spring. Criminal proceedings are pending against him. He is charged with disclosing information in connection with a police investigation.

Oppositionists and civil rights activists in the sights of the judiciary

Lawyers in Russia repeatedly complain that they are being prosecuted in the course of explosive proceedings. The Russian authorities are internationally criticized for sometimes hindering lawyers in their work.

Most recently, they also took action against independent news media. Two of them – Medusa and VTimes – were classified as “foreign agents” and the investigative platform Proekt was banned.

In June, a Moscow court banned the organizations Navalny founded by classifying them as extremist. The order prohibits individuals associated with Nawalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation and its large regional network of offices from running for public office. Many of Nawalny’s comrades-in-arms wanted to run for the next parliamentary election in September.

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