Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny has called on the legal community to stand up for his lawyers Vadim Kobzev, Alexei Liptser and Igor Sergunin, who were arrested last week on charges of taking part in an “extremist community,” according to a post on Navalny’s Facebook account.
“As someone who was once part of the legal community, I strongly encourage my fellow lawyers not to stay silent. We need to unite and speak out in support of our colleagues who are being persecuted for fulfilling their duty to help their clients,” Navalny said.
Navalny asserts that the persecution of his defenders aims to frighten the public and penalize those who stand up for political prisoners.
“The persecution of my defenders is clearly against the law and has only two purposes: 1) to retaliate against them for their outstanding work 2) to threaten society and, above all, the lawyers who dare to defend political prisoners.”
On October 18, reports confirmed that the three arrested lawyers — Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin, and Alexei Liptser — were transferred from the Moscow pre-trial detention center “Medved'” (lit. “Bear”) to a special block within Federal Pre-trial Detention Center-1 (“Matrosskaya Tishina,” lit. “Seaman’s Silence”), colloquially known as “Kremlin Central.”
The “Kremlin Central” differs from other pre-trial detention centers in the stricter treatment of inmates and strong censorship.
The three men are accused of belonging to an “extremist group.” State investigators claim that they passed information to Navalny, who was sentenced to 19 years in a “special regime” penal colony in August after being found guilty on various charges related to “extremist activity.”
In a post on Instagram on Monday, Alexander Fedulov, Navalny’s fourth lawyer, revealed that had left the country.