Russia: Legal group having links with Navalny disbands

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Jul 18, 2021, 11:04 PM(IST)

Alexei Navalny Photograph:( Reuters )

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Critics in Russia are facing increased pressure after Navalny's arrest and imprisonment. The legal group has defended Navalny's organisations in past

A Russian legal group that has defended organisations of Kremlin-critic Alexei Navalny on Sunday said that it was disbanding due to fears of criminal sanctions.

Team 29 said that after a request from prosecutors, its website had been blocked. The prosecutors accuse the group of having links with a Czech organisation that has been called "undesirable"

Pressure on critics has been stepped up following Navalny's arrest and imprisonment. Russian authorities can ban groups declared "undesirable organisations" and members face up to six years in prison. 

Saint Petersburg-based Team 29 describes itself as an association of lawyers and journalists fighting for freedom of speech in Russia, where it is known for defending people accused of treason. 

The group rejected any link to the Czech organisation and denounced the accusations as "fanciful". 

"But we cannot ignore the position of the security forces," the group said in a statement posted on the Telegram messenger.

They feared that "the next step in the attack" would be criminal proceedings against its members and supporters.

"Our lawyers and jurists will continue to work on their clients' cases solely independently," the statement said. 

The group said it had deleted all its online archives to avoid any risk. 

Team 29 head Ivan Pavlov was arrested in April while he was acting for Navalny and faces accusations of disclosing information about a preliminary investigation. 

The courts designated Navalny's organisations as extremist in June, paving the way for a crackdown on his allies.

(With inputs from agencies)

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