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Top human rights lawyer leaves Russia, citing criminal case against him

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Ivan Pavlov, a lawyer defending Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) in an extremism case, speaks with journalists after a court hearing in Moscow, Russia May 17, 2021. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW, Sept 7 (Reuters) - A prominent Russian human rights lawyer who defended jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's foundation and worked on many high-profile cases said on Tuesday that he had left Russia due to a criminal inquiry against him.

Ivan Pavlov is well known inside Russia for taking on politically sensitive cases and defending people accused of everything from treason to espionage.

Russia opened a criminal case against him in April, accusing him of disclosing classified information relating to an ongoing treason investigation against former journalist Ivan Safronov, one of his clients. read more

"The restrictions imposed on me in connection with the criminal case have gradually made my work impossible," Pavlov wrote on Telegram messenger. "The restrictions didn't touch upon one thing: my ability to leave the country. This was a sign pointing to the exit."

Russia's Investigative Committee, the body that probes major crimes, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pavlov, who said he had been barred him from using the internet and communicating with clients and colleagues in Russia, said he was now based in Georgia in the South Caucasus.

"I'll have to start many things from scratch, but it won't be the first time," Pavlov said. "I plan to continue the work that caused me to be forced to leave my country."

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, editing by Mark Heinrich

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