♦ Lawyers in Russia express their concern ♦
|Russian lawyers concerned about the current situation of observance of human rights and freedoms in Crimea, in particular the prosecution of their colleague EMIL KURBEDINOV, have published an open letter.
Since 2014 the Russian authorities in Crimea have consistently stifled fundamental human rights and freedoms. The freedoms of assembly, conscience and expression on the peninsula have to all intents and purposes been destroyed. Criminal cases, jailings under administrative law and fines have been handed out right, left and centre to people regardless of their views or sphere of activism — whether journalists, anarchists, Muslims, merely for expressing their point of view, displaying a flag on a car, criticizing the authorities or attempting to hold a peaceful picket or rally. Since 2014 Article 20.3 of the Administrative Code (public display of Nazi symbols or attributes of extremist organizations), under which Kurbedinov was jailed, has been widely used by the Russian authorities for political purposes.
In Crimea there are no human rights organizations or public oversight commissions, and access for independent monitoring missions is limited as much as possible. The judicial system in Crimea has been reduced to that of a formality. Crimean courts do not implement the basic legal norms and ignore the decisions and interpretations made by the higher courts of the Russian Federation.
Lawyers stand as the last obstacle in the path to total lawlessness— those individuals who are ready to actively and openly defend journalists, activists, and ordinary people, who have been groundlessly branded as “terrorists” or “saboteurs”. The lawyer Kurbedinov has defended Nikolai Semena, the Ukrainian journalist, and Akhtem Chiigoz and Ilmi Umerov, leaders of the Crimean Tatars, as well as many others.
There is no doubt that the simultaneous arrest of the lawyer Kurbedinov for posting a video on social networks and the searches of his office and apartment were planned and political in nature, with a view to intimidating him and making it impossible for him to continue working as a lawyer.
In a most bizarre statement, the Bar Association of Crimea described the prosecution of one of its member-lawyers as “lawful”.
We, Russian lawyers, including some of us who who work in Crimea, express our solidarity with our colleague. We appeal to the Federal Bar Association of the Russian Federation to take steps to protect him and not to allow a purely political prosecution to take place.
Aleksandr Popkov, Krasnodar Bar Association
Translated by Graham Jones