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Former US ambassador calls Putin a 'coward' after Navalny's lawyer arrested

A former U.S. ambassador to Russia called Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinTime for jaw-to-jaw with Moscow Hillicon Valley: Colonial pipeline is back online, but concerns remain | Uber, Lyft struggle with driver supply | Apple cuts controversial hire Menendez calls on Biden to support Armenia amid rising tensions with Azerbaijan MORE a “coward” after police in Moscow arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s lawyer.

Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia for two years during the Obama administration, took to Twitter to criticize Putin after Navalny’s lawyer Ivan Pavlov was arrested on Friday.

“This is completely crazy. The rule of law in Russia is disappearing," McFaul tweeted, sharing a news story about the lawyer's arrest.

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Pavlov has represented three organizations associated with Navalny that Russia is attempting to ban. He has accused the Russian government of hiding behind a closed court and labeling materials as secret when they are not, The Washington Post reported.

The lawyer has filed a countersuit against the government to declassify materials in the Navalny organization case. Pavlov was arrested and charged with releasing preliminary investigation data in a case on Friday, a day after he was threatened with jail by Russia's Federal Service Service.

Putin is a coward. Why else would he arrest the lawyer trying to work within the Russian legal system to defend Navalny's organization? Just pathetic. Hard for me to understand how anyone could respect these actions,” tweeted McFaul, who now leads an international studies institute at Stanford.

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The Russian government has previously jailed Navalny supporters, lawyers and journalists covering his protest. Navalny's headquarters and regional offices disbanded Thursday in order to protect its staff, according to The Washington Post.

Navalny appeared in court via video for the first time on Thursday after ending a three-week hunger strike stemming from a desire to see a civilian doctor for his medical issues.

The opposition leader appeared gaunt, with his head shaven. He said he weighed just under 160 pounds, a weight he had not been at since seventh grade.

President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE has condemned Russia over its jailing of Navalny, and in March the U.S. issued sanctions against the country over its use of chemical weapons against dissidents, including Navalny.

McFaul said Friday that Biden should meet with Ukraine's president before Putin due to Russia's recent actions regarding Navalny and for sending military troops to the Ukrainian border.