a rights group in Russia It announced on Sunday it was shutting down, citing fears of prosecution of its members and supporters after Russian authorities blocked its website for allegedly publishing content from an “undesirable” organization.
The 29 association, a team of lawyers and journalists specializing in treason and espionage cases and freedom of information issues, said on Sunday that Russian authorities had accused it of spreading material from a Czech non-governmental organization that was declared “undesirable” in Russia. it was done.
The group’s website was blocked on Friday, even though it denied the allegations, and its lawyers said they believed the government’s next step could be to prosecute members and supporters.
“In these situations, the continuation of Team 29’s activities poses a direct and clear threat to the safety of a large number of people, and we cannot ignore that risk,” the group said, adding that Will remove all online content. to avoid any risk and that its attorneys will continue to represent its clients personally.
Team 29 is being shut down as pressure mounts on opposition supporters, independent journalists and human rights activists in Russia ahead of parliamentary elections in September. The vote is widely seen as an important part of President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to consolidate his rule ahead of the 2024 presidential election. The 68-year-old Russian leader, who has been in power for more than two decades, pushed through constitutional changes last year that would potentially allow him to remain in power until 2036.
In recent months, Russian authorities have increased pressure on independent news media, naming two popular independent outlets, Meduza and VTimes, as “foreign agents” and outlawing the publisher of ProAct investigative media outlets, while Its journalists were referred to as “foreign agents.” VTimes shut down shortly thereafter.
Last month, a Moscow Court illegal organization founded by imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny Calling them extremists. The ruling barred people affiliated with Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption and its vast regional network from seeking public office. Several of Navalny’s allies had planned to run for parliamentary seats in Russia’s September 19 election.
Team 29, including its lead lawyer Ivan Pavlov, was involved in defending Navalny’s foundation in court. In April, Russian authorities launched a criminal case against Pavlov, who is also representing a former Russian journalist accused of treason in a high-profile case accusing him of disclosing information related to a police investigation.