On Friday, Russian security officers arrested and detained high-profile lawyer Ivan Pavlov. The human-rights attorney believed that his arrest is closely related to his client, Alexei Navalny.

Politically Motivated 

Just last week, authorities launched a criminal investigation against the prominent lawyer. According to the complaint, Pavlov had allegedly disclosed confidential information in his previous case with journalist Ivan Safronov

However, the attorney believed that the Russian government had a deeper political motive behind his arrest. In fact, he claimed that the charges are meant to get him off Navalny’s case. According to Pavlov’s co-counsel Dmitry Katchev there “is an element of pressure because if he’s found guilty of committing a deliberate crime, he would be deprived of his lawyer status.” Katchev continued that the move would prevent the human rights lawyer to “continue his professional activity.”

Police Harassment 

Yevgeny Smirnov, Pavlov’s colleague also believed that his arrest is closely related to Navalny’s group. Smirnov confirmed that his colleague had received several threats from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in the weeks leading to his arrest. 

In a statement, Pavlov said that the police treated him like a “suspect.” Authorities even searched his office and home. While he was immediately released, the human rights attorney is still subject to further interrogation with the Service Committee.

In his career, Pavlov had represented politically sensitive cases, ranging from charges of espionage, and even treason. 

Accusations of Extremism

Currently, the human-rights attorney is defending one of Navalny’s groups, the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK). The FBK is an organization that is responsible for investigating and releasing reports over allegations of corruption. In retaliation, the Russian government accused the group of “extremism.” 

The news of Pavlov’s arrest and detention is another legal assault against the opposition. Just last month, Navalny’s network of supporters disbanded amidst increasing threats and harassments. 

In addition, the Russian government also plans to label all organizations related to the opposition leader as “extremists.” As a result, the group immediately cleared their headquarters and deleted their social media accounts to protect their staff and supporters. 

The leader’s close adviser, Leonid Volkov confirmed that they had to close down at least 36 headquarters

Navalny Refuses To Back Down 

However, Navalny remains unfazed by the threats against his security. Just last month, the opposition leader fought back against Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Navalny even accused Putin of “robbing the people” and turning them into “slaves.” 

The opposition leader had recently ended his 24-day hunger strike to protest his treatment in prison, specifically for his lack of access to medical facilities. Navalny had previously complained of numbness and back pain which might be related to his nerve attack in January. He believed that Russian officials are responsible for the attack. The leader also suspected that the government used Novichok, a highly toxic nerve agent which can cause paralysis and even death by asphyxiation.