Russia Arrests Attorneys of Opposition Leader Navalny

Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned Russian opposition leader, criticized on Tuesday the arrest of three of his attorneys, characterizing it as part of the Russian authorities' attempt to further isolate him.

Navalny Without AttorneysNavalny appeared at a court hearing without his attorneys, as they were arrested. (Photo: Команда Навальногo/X/screenshot, License) Navalny made his displeasure known in court through a video link released by his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, where he called the arrests "outrageous and illegal acts.”

“Nobody is permitted to see me. I am utterly cut off from information," he said.

According to Navalny's close associates, Russian authorities detained the three lawyers on Friday and conducted searches at their residences.

A judge at Moscow's Basmanny District Court ordered the arrest of lawyers Igor Sergunin, Alexey Lipster, and Vadim Kobzev, placing them in pre-trial custody for at least a month or two, as reported by Russian independent human rights media project, OVD-Info.

Navalny's Chief of Staff, Leonid Volkov, revealed that Kobzev, Sergunin, and Liptser are charged with "membership in an extremist community," which could result in up to six years in prison.

“Just for being @navalny’s attorneys,” Volkov commented on his X profile (former Twitter).

Volkov emphasized that the arrest of the lawyers is an act of intimidation with the clear intent to further isolate Navalny from the outside world. He compared it to the strategy of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko to suppress lawyers.

Volkov also warned that Navalny would likely be transferred to a high-security penitentiary soon due to his recent 19-year sentence for “extremism,” making it impossible for his attorneys to visit or locate him if they are imprisoned themselves.

“Terrifying,” he stressed.

Kobzev was detained shortly before he was reportedly scheduled to appear in court on Friday to stand by Navalny in a case against his prison.

Russian authorities detained Navalny in January 2021 after his return from Berlin, where he had received treatment following a poisoning attack in Russia. A month later, he was found guilty by Moscow's Simonovsky District Court of violating the terms of his 2014 suspended sentence in the Yves Rocher case, resulting in a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence. A year later, he received an additional nine-year prison sentence on fraud charges.

Before the new 19-year sentence, Navalny was sent to the IK-6 Federal Penitentiary Colony in the village of Melekhovo in June 2022, a facility often described as Russia's most intimidating prison, to serve an 11-year sentence.