Three lawyers representing Russian dissident and critic Alexei Navalny were detained Friday following raids of their residences. The three men are accused of participation in an extremist group allegedly led by Navalny.
Vadim Kobzev, Igor Segunin and Alexei Lipster have represented Navalny in his many legal struggles, with Kobzev acting for him since 2010. Following searches of their homes and subsequent arrests, the men were brought to Basmanny Court in Moscow. All three later appeared in court. According to information released by Navalny’s ally Ivan Zhdanov, the men were accused of using their status as lawyers to access the “correctional institution” Navalny was held in, which “ensured the regular transfer of information between the leaders [and] participants [of the] extremist community.” Navalny was labeled as the “leader and manager” in “planning, preparing, creating conditions and committing extremist crimes.”
Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokesperson, condemned the arrests in a statement released via X (formerly Twitter). Yarmysh labeled the events “monstrous,” commenting:
The arrest of Navalny’s lawyers is essentially a ban on providing legal assistance to Alexei himself and an act of intimidation of the entire legal community. Previously, this was unthinkable even by the standards of Putin’s state, but today there is even less of the “state” and “law” left in Russia.
Alexei Navalny has been in custody in Russia since January 2021. Following his initial detention, Navalny has been convicted of many crimes, most recently receiving a nineteen-year sentence on extremism charges in August 2023. While he attempted to appeal this decision, the Moscow City Court rejected the appeal on September 27, 2023. Following this, he is due to be transferred to a special security penal colony.
While detained, Navalny’s lawyers can no longer represent him. All three will remain in detention pending investigation and trial.