Russian authorities must immediately withdraw their motion to disbar lawyer Ivan Pavlov and stop their harassment of the lawyer as a result of his professional duties, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said.
“The multiple attempts to disbar Ivan Pavlov send a clear signal to lawyers in Russia that their independence is at serious risk” said Roisin Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.
“The pattern of harassment by authorities is designed to deter lawyers from representing clients in certain high-profile cases. But international standards protect the independence of lawyers and stipulate that lawyers should never be identified with their clients’ causes”.
The ICJ calls on the authorities of the Russian Federation to withdraw the motion against Pavlov to ensure that he does not face adverse consequences for diligently carrying out his professional duties and that he continues to freely exercise his profession.
On 20 September, the St Petersburg Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation submitted a motion to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Ivan Pavlov seeking his disbarment. No alternative measures were suggested by the Ministry.
The ICJ is concerned that the grounds of disbarment threaten Ivan Pavlov’s freedom of expression and seek to penalise him for the representation of his client. By way of example, one of the grounds for disbarment cited by the Ministry of Justice is that by giving interviews to the media he carried out “an attempt to put pressure on the investigation and the court by unilaterally submitting information to the media and presenting the public with distorted data on the investigation of a criminal case”.
Among the other grounds for the disbarment sought by the Ministry of Justice are failure to attend investigative actions, an alleged unwarranted transcription of state secret information from a case file, and presidency of an NGO recognised by the authorities as “undesirable”.
Pavlov rejects these allegations as unsubstantiated or factually incorrect.
Previously, in 2020, the Ministry of Justice sought disbarment of Ivan Pavlov and appealed the refusal of the St Petersburg Bar Association to disbar him. On 30 September, the Kuibyshev District Court terminated the proceedings, as the Ministry of Justice withdrew the suit. Yet, the key points from these proceedings were used in the new motion seeking Pavlov’s disbarment submitted on 20 September.