Since Navalny’s initial detention in 2021, he has been routinely subjected to harsh treatment behind bars — regularly placed in solitary confinement and denied medical care.
Navalny press secretary Kira Yarmysh wrote on X — formerly known as Twitter — that the lawyers had been detained “so that Alexei is without legal protection … and to send a signal to other lawyers: it is dangerous to defend him and other political prisoners.”
The home of a fourth Navalny lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, was raided Friday, but Mikhailova was said to be out of the country.
The director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Ivan Zhdanov, wrote that authorities had searched the homes of lawyers Vadim Kobzev, Igor Sergunin and Alexey Liptser as part of an investigation into their suspected involvement in an “extremist” organization.
The extremism charge against Navalny was based on his leadership of the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which worked to draw attention to public graft and also called for democracy and fair elections in Russia.
Russia formally designated the foundation an extremist organization in 2021. The group’s high-profile investigations into alleged corruption included an inquiry into President Vladimir Putin’s personal wealth and a lavish Black Sea palace allegedly linked to the president. The Kremlin has denied that Putin owns it.
Navalny’s lawyers could face up to six years in prison if convicted.
“Without a doubt, this is part of a step to completely isolate Navalny,” Zhdanov wrote.
Appearing at a court hearing Friday, Navalny was informed about the raids by a Russian journalist. One of the lawyers, Kobzev, was due in court to represent Navalny in a lawsuit that Navalny has filed against the prison where he is being held.
“Holy sh–,” Navalny responded to the news, apparently caught by surprise.
“Information has just arrived that, of course, perfectly characterizes not only my trial, but also the general state of legality in Russia,” Navalny said, addressing the judge. “As in Soviet times, not only political activists are persecuted and turned into political prisoners, but also their lawyers.”
Navalny asked that the hearing be postponed, and it has been rescheduled for Nov. 1.