Russian lawyers call for strike to protest authorities’ obstruction of their work
A group of Russian lawyers has published an open letter calling for their colleagues in the profession to join a strike in opposition to the Russian authorities’ persecution and mistreatment of defense attorneys in the country.
In the statement, the authors assert that defense attorneys are discriminated against “en masse and systemically” in comparison with other participants in the country’s justice system, despite being “equal” on paper. They note that they regularly experience payment delays when serving as public defenders and that law enforcement officials often either neglect to investigate crimes against attorneys or commit such crimes themselves.
The letter goes on to say that the country’s law enforcement agencies and courts target defense lawyers for their professional work by hitting them with “fabricated misdemeanor and felony charges,” citing the arrests of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny’s lawyers Vadim Kobzev, Alexey Liptser, and Igor Sergunin, “who were effectively imprisoned for performing their professional duties.”
The authors also demand a formal investigation into the instances of intimidation, obstruction, and unjustified interference in lawyers’ work mentioned in the letter; an end to the persection of their colleagues; and the adoption of legal standards providing accountability for the obstruction of lawyers’ professional activity as part of the Russian Criminal Code.
The letter concludes by calling on Russia’s regional bar associations not to take disciplinary action against attorneys who take part in the strike.
As of this article’s publication, the letter has garnered 52 signatures.