On 16 March 2022, the Ministry of Justice attempted to disbar Ivan Pavlov. However, the Council of the St. Petersburg Bar Association instead decided to disbar the human rights lawyer on the same day, and has therefore been forbidden by the St. Petersburg Bar Association to provide any type of legal assitance. It is believed that the decision was made based on the fact that Ivan Pavlov has been outside of Russia for more than six months, and allegedly not fulfillling his professional duties as a lawyer. It was reported that this decision is in the interests of the State prosecutor in the case of Ivan Safronov, whom Ivan Pavlov was representing. His disbarment means that Ivan Pavlov can no longer provide legal assistance to anyone, including Ivan Safronov.
This situation arose from three complaints sent by the Minstry of Justice and one by the Vice President of the St. Petersburg Bar Association to the Qualification Commission. According to the complaints, Ivan Pavlov breached several provisions concerning his work as a lawyer, although the alleged breaches were not specified. The complaints were examined by the Qualification Commission, which found that Ivan Pavlov could not properly perform his duties as a lawyer. Upon receiving the complaints and also carrying out an examination, the Council of the St. Petersburg Bar Association did not agree with the opinion of the Qualification Commission concerning the number of alleged breaches. As a result of their examination of the complaints, the Council disbarred Ivan Pavlov based on the “inability of a lawyer to perform his professional duties for more than six months,” as per Article 16 §2 of the Russian Federal Law on the Bar Association and Bar Activities. However, the evidence based on this Article has not yet been provided to Ivan Pavlov or his lawyer. His disbarment bans Ivan Pavlov from providing anyone with legal assistance.
Since April 2021, Ivan Pavlov has been under criminal investigation, accused of disclosing data of a preliminary investigation concerning one of his clients, former journalist Ivan Safronov. On 19 July 2021, Ivan Pavlov’s lawyer’s appeals were rejected by the Moscow City Court regarding the restriction measures forbidding him to use any form of communication, except for calling the emergency services, the investigator for the case, or his relatives, leaving them unchanged.
Ivan Pavlov is a prominent human rights lawyer and director of Team 29, an association of lawyers and journalists. His legal work focuses on defending those wrongly accused by the security services of disclosing state secrets, high treason, or espionage. He has also been working to ensure public access to government information, and with this aim founded the Institute for the Development of Freedom of Information which was designated as a “foreign agent” by the Russian authorities in 2014. In 2015, Team 29 was established to provide consultation and legal aid to individuals asserting their right to receive and distribute information, defend victims abused by law enforcement and security agencies, provide recommendations on how to respond to searches, interrogations, arrests, etc. Ivan Pavlov has also contributed to the development of Russian legislation on the right to freedom of information. He received the Moscow Helsinki Group Award for defending human rights in court in 2015 and the Alison Des Forges Award for Extraordinary Activism in 2018, awarded by Human Rights Watch to activists who put themselves at great risk to protect the dignity and rights of others.