Stop the Harassment of Human Rights Lawyers

Russia Criminal Code

On 26 October, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation will consider the appeal by human rights lawyers Ms Marina Dubrovina and Mr Dokka Itslaev of the special ruling by a judge of the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic. In the ruling issued on 27 May 2016 the judge accused them of committing actions that “defame the honour and the dignity of a lawyer” and suggested revoking their license to practice law.

Ms Marina Dubrovina and Mr Dokka Itslaev are human rights lawyers based in the Krasnodar region and the Chechen republic in Russia. Prior to the ruling, they were defending Ukrainian citizens Mr Nikolai Karpyuk and Mr Stanislav Klykh charged with fighting Russian troops in Grozny, Chechen republic during the warfare in 1990s. Both men denied their accusations saying they had never visited Chechen republic before the trial and reported that they had been tortured during the investigation. Their trial took place in Grozny. Human Rights Centre Memorial recognizes Mr Karpyuk and Mr Klykh as political prisoners.

“The harassment of human rights lawyers is a part of increased persecution of any display of criticism or disloyalty to the Chechen authorities. We call on the Supreme Court to uphold the rule of law in Chechnya and revoke the ruling,” said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eurasia, Civil Rights Defenders.

It is worrying that the pressure extends to the judiciary. Most recently, on 5 May the President of Chechen republic openly demanded that a number of senior judges resign voluntarily, and on 6 October, according to several reports, the head of the Parliament of Chechen republic beat the acting head of the Supreme Court who refused to resign.

Civil Rights Defenders urges the Russian authorities to immediately cease the judicial harassment of Ms Marina Dubrovina and Mr Dokka Itslaev, which aims to punish them for their legitimate work to defend human rights.