Joint Statement in Support of Lawyer Mark Feygin
Around the world, lawyers’ work is becoming increasingly difficult as they face retaliation, harassment and abuse as a result of performing their professional duties representing human rights defenders, journalists, activities, opposition members and regular persons.
In Russia, we are concerned about the continued harassment of lawyer Mark Feygin. Mr. Feygin appears to be a subject to harassment in connection with his legitimate activities as attorney. Mark Feygin is a prominent lawyer from the Russian Federation. He has represented clients in many sensitive cases including Pussy Riot, Greenpeace activists, the Ukrainian pilot and Member of Parliament Nadia Savchenko, Deputy Chair of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, Ilmi Umerov, and publicist Andrei Piontkovsky.
Since October 2016, Mr. Feygin has been defending Ukrainian journalist and correspondent of the Ukrainian state media agency Ukrinform in Paris, Roman Sushchenko, who had been arrested in Moscow on accusations of espionage. Since the moment Mark Feygin became Sushchenko’s attorney, he has been under constant public pressure in connection with his legal defense of Ukrainian prisoners.
This is not the first time Mark Feygin is facing difficulties in exercising his professional activities when representing clients in sensitive cases. In 2014, local authorities tried to initiate a criminal case against Mr. Feygin for publishing tweets on his twitter account about the case against his client Nadiya Savchenko who had been charged with the killing of two Russian journalists. The Ministry of Justice also requested the Moscow Bar Association to conduct an audit of Mr. Feygin’s activities, to establish whether these alleged ‘extremist statements’ are in violation of the code of lawyer’s ethics and could lead to disciplinary action.
After Mr. Feygin started to represent Ukrainian prisoners, third-party pressure intensified on him both in public and in private via social media, TV and radio shows, creating a challenging environment where the work of a lawyer becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible. To effectively fulfill their role as essential agents of justice and in upholding the rule of law, lawyers should be able to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference, in compliance with internationally recognized laws and standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Independence of Lawyers and other international instruments.
We call on the Russian authorities to comply with their international obligations to provide the necessary guarantees for the proper functioning of lawyers, including to do the utmost to protect Mark Feygin from persecution, improper restrictions and infringements, and to carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats against him.