Tag Archives: Russia

Russian Invasion Upends Life for Ukrainian Lawyers, a Year Later


Adam Mycyk was asleep in his home in Kyiv, Ukraine in late February 2022 when the blare of missile strikes shook him awake.

His mind raced. Where’s the nearest bomb shelter? What if the electric grid is hit?

The Dentons partner then spent the first day of Russia’s invasion scrambling to organize coverage for companies he advises.

“I was in the middle of two deals at that point—maybe three—that were mostly Ukraine-related, but cross-border in nature,” said Mycyk, 56, a mergers and acquisitions lawyer, in an interview. “These things still had to move forward.”

The Russian invasion has upended the lives of lawyers in Ukraine, forcing them to confront safety, psychological and logistical challenges as they work from a country under siege. Nearly a year after the siege began, the lawyers who fled are carrying on as refugees in foreign countries, wondering when they’ll be able to return.

For those who remain in Ukraine, any sense of normalcy is interrupted by hours of air raid sirens day and night.

“You could have a court hearing, and then the sirens would go off and the court had to adjourn the hearing,” said Roman Hryshyn-Hryshchuk, a CMS Legal Services litigation associate. “Sometimes you had to conduct them while literally hiding in the shelter.”

Hryshyn-Hryshchuk has been in the small, western town of Vyzhnytsia since February, when he left Kyiv to stay with his parents. He is banned from leaving the country and said he’s hesitant to travel between regions as suspicions about runaways or saboteurs escalate among authorities and defense volunteers.






Russian Lawyer Who Defended Opposition Activists Flees Russia


Russian lawyer Leonid Krikun, who gained prominence by defending opposition and civil right activists in high-profile cases, has fled Russia, fearing for his safety. Krikun told the SOTA online media group on January 4 that he is currently outside of Russia in an unspecified country, adding that he had to leave the country “to avoid incarceration.” Since Russia launched its ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February, many opposition activists, journalists, lawyers, and rights defenders fled the country fearing for their safety and freedom. 



https://www.svoboda.org/a/advokat-leonid-krikun-zaschischavshiy-oppozitsionerov-pokinul-rossiyu/32207641.html (RUSSIAN)




Russia’s Interior Ministry puts Russian human rights lawyer on wanted list


The Russian Interior Ministry put Ilya Novikov, a lawyer defending a proscribed Russian human rights organisation, on its wanted list, NEXTA reported on Thursday.

The ministry said he was “wanted under an article of the Criminal Code” but would not specify which one applied.

Mr Novikov, 40, is known for defending in trials the Anti-Corruption Foundation, the human rights organization “Memorial” and Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko.

It comes as no surprise that under the tightening dictatorial grip of the Kremlin and with Russia implementing its racist politics in Ukraine that the lawyer found himself in Moscow’s crosshairs. On November 25, the Russian Ministry of Justice added six more people to the list of individuals performing the functions of a foreign agent, including Ilya Novikov.

There’s no place for “Memorial” in Russia

Russia’s oldest human rights organisation “Memorial” was dissolved by the Russian authorities in late 2021. To oppose the development, a small protest was held in front of Russia’s Supreme court in late December 2021 but was soon pacified by Russian services, with police detaining several people.

Moreover, about a dozen people attended a vigil held at a memorial to victims of political repression in Sankt Petersburg.






https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9D%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%BA%D0%BE%D0%B2,%D0%98%D0%BB%D1%8C%D1%8F%D0%A1%D0%B5%D1%80%D0%B3%D0%B5%D0%B5%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87 (RUSSIAN)



The Crimean Solidarity movement was set up by lawyers, journalists, and relatives of those arrested following the Russian invasion of Crimea in 2014.

The organization has persisted through many years of struggle, and still exists despite constant threats and attacks. Many in the movement are citizen journalists regularly targeted this year by Russian authorities in Crimea. Their homes are routinely raided, and they are often jailed.

Now, three lawyers who represent those targeted have themselves been attacked. The three – Lilia Hemedzhy, Rustem Kyamilev, and Nazim Sheikhmambetov – are advocates representing many of those in the estimated 200 cases brought against members of the Crimea Solidarity movement.

“They are under constant surveillance, and now the authorities have taken away their permission to practice as lawyers. It was done on a technicality,” Demir Minadirov of Crimea Solidarity told me when we met in Kyiv last week. In July the three were stripped of their lawyers’ licenses, effectively preventing them from representing their clients in court in criminal cases.

He says since 2017, pressure on the movement has intensified and around 50 members have been jailed, with many detained on the word of secret witnesses.

“We’re trying to make these cases as well-known as possible, to draw attention to what’s happening in Crimea. We’re asking for international solidarity from lawyers and lawyers’ associations. We want them to contact the authorities and say they know about what’s happened to Lilia Hemedzhy, Rustem Kyamilev, and Nazim Sheikhmambetov,” he said.

Human Rights First knows the power of international solidarity with human rights lawyers. HRF’s roots are in the legal human rights community, and we were founded in 1978 as the Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights.

Since then, we’ve worked with human right lawyers all over the world. In the last decade we’ve supported and worked alongside human rights defenders who are lawyers in places including BahrainEgyptHong KongHungaryKenyaNorthern IrelandPolandSaudi ArabiaThe PhilippinesThe United Arab Emirates, and of course Ukraine.

Some of the lawyers whose work we’ve highlighted are in prison, others risk their lives to carry out their legal work in defense of the rights of others, and most are under some sort of harassment or pressure. We know from decades of experience that public solidarity with lawyers at risk in other parts of the world can be a powerful support.




https://unba.org.ua/news/7739-naau-podyakuvala-za-pidtrimku-evropejs-kim-kolegam-z-federacii-advokatur-evropi.html (UKRAINIAN)




Lawyers consider how to respond to the Moscow military officer who threatened them with prosecution for helping people evade enlistment


On Friday, September 23, a copy of a letter appeared online that was written by Viktor Shepilov, Military Commissioner of Moscow, to Igor Polyakov, president of the Moscow Bar Association. Calling attention to offers made on social media for “legal services for the purpose of draft evasion,” the Commissioner warns that under Article 33 of the Russian Criminal Code, “assisting in evading military service, counseling on draft evasion, and mediating evasion” could be considered participation in a criminal act of a conscript, as qualified in Article 328 of the Russian Criminal Code.

On the same day, Rossiiskaya gazeta also published information about the letter, which was circulated online and signed by Shepilov, thus supporting its authenticity. The author of the piece alleges that, in addition to sending the letter to the Moscow Bar Association’s president, the Commissar has sent it to the association’s council and to “leaders of Moscow’s legal community.” The letter requests that they “articulate and circulate the legal community’s public position on the inadmissibility of assisting citizens in evading conscription.”

To date, none of the aforementioned agencies has received Shepilov’s letter, and there has also been no information from bar associations in other regions of Russia regarding similar letters. Nevertheless, the “leaders of the legal community” are alarmed at the threat of being prosecuted on charges of aiding and abetting, as well as at the potential for their colleagues to be mobilized, which also threatens their clients’ rights. They gathered over the weekend to “articulate their position” and outline a response to the commissioner, based on the Ilya Repin painting Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks. Here is the rough draft of their work:

Your Excellency, distinguished Major General of the Reserve!

Forced mobilization for military service should be regarded as essentially depriving a citizen of their liberty, as well as, in the long run, their life, in the absence of any indication of guilt. The legal community has not found any information in the Criminal Code you referenced that pertains to this, with the exception of Article 39, ‘Extreme Necessity’: ‘It is not a crime to cause harm to the interests protected by criminal law … in order to eliminate a danger directly threatening an individual and their rights, or the rights of others … if this danger cannot be eliminated by other means and the limits of extreme necessity have not been exceeded.’


https://mhg.ru/advokaty-dumayut-chto-otvetit-voenkomu-moskvy-kotoryy-prigrozil-im-ugolovnym-presledovaniem-za (RUSSIAN)


USA: Ukrainian scholars and others finding a helping hand at University of Pittsburgh School of Law


Amid the Russian invasion, Pitt professors and programs are aiding Ukraine and Ukrainians in their efforts to continue their academic scholarship, prepare to rebuild their country and treat victims — particularly of trauma and its effects.

The School of Law, pointing to the many ways Russia has tried to use the law to confront Ukraine before and during the war, has brought eight Ukrainian law students here to the Center for International Legal Education (CILE) with full scholarships to earn their LLM (master of laws) degree. It is part of the school’s broader Ukrainian Legal Assistance Project, which is helping prepare these students — many of them already accomplished Ukrainian lawyers — to rebuild their country after the war and to connect them now with law firms and companies here for pro bono work that can help Ukraine today.

CILE Executive Director Charles T. Kotuby Jr. points out that the program already has experience bringing students here from Afghanistan with similar goals for their homeland.

“What we’re really trying to do is create the next generation of leaders” in Ukraine, Kotuby said. “The Ukrainian students — you cannot keep them here … They want to go back and rebuild the country.”

CILE has asked the Pittsburgh legal community and international businesses for help in taking on these students part-time while they are here, involving them in legal work today. “We’ve had a wonderful response,” Kotuby said. “They are a remarkable bunch of students.

One of them is Olha V. Tsyliuryk, who already has 13 years’ experience in the law. When the war hit, she was legal adviser to the mayor of Enerhodar, 420 miles from Kyiv. She is also an elected member of her district council and a university lecturer with her own law practice. Enerhodar is the site of the nuclear power plant currently under siege by the Russians.

When the war started, she drove to Warsaw and flew to Washington, D.C., where she quickly became involved in a project to deliver food to several Ukrainian districts and raise money for relief.

By July, she felt she could do more and decided to expand her legal know-how for the eventual reconstruction of her country. “It’s very important for me to obtain new experience and new skills,” Tsyliuryk said.

Her family, whom she has not seen in half a year, is still in Ukraine. “It’s very difficult and fearful for me,” she said. “I hope everything is over soon.”

In the meantime she says that lawyers with international experience will be crucial for making Ukraine safe for the investment needed to rebuild it, she said.



https://unba.org.ua/news/7601-zaproshuemo-advokativ-vzyati-uchast-u-blagodijnomu-turniri-zi-shvidkih-shahiv-na-pidtrimku-zsu.html (UKRAINIAN)



https://www.amnesty.be/veux-agir/agir-ligne/petitions/crimee-avocates (FRANCAIS – SIGNEZ LA PETITION!)

Noted Lawyer Charged Over His Stance On Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine


The chairman of the Attorneys’ Chamber in Russia’s Udmurtia region, Dmitry Talantov, has been accused of committing five crimes and faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Pervy Otdel (The First Unit), a group that unites lawyers and right defenders, wrote on Telegram on September 14 that Talantov has been charged with the distribution of fake materials inciting political hatred and discord, and two counts of inciting hatred and discord using an official position.

Talantov was arrested in the Udmurt capital, Izhevsk, and sent to pretrial detention in Moscow in late June after he criticized the Russian government and military forces over a deadly strike on a shopping mall in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.

He was initially charged with distributing false information about the Russian armed forces.

Earlier in April, Talantov, who has openly condemned Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, also harshly criticized Russia’s military for killing civilians in the Ukrainian towns and cities of Irpin, Bucha, and Mariupol.

Talantov was the lawyer for Ivan Safronov, a prominent former Russian journalist who was sentenced to 22 years in prison last week on a treason charge widely considered to be politically motivated.










https://desk-russie.eu/2022/08/17/fausse-informations.html (FRANCAIS)

European Lawyers’ Day 2022 is on 25 October


European Lawyers’ Day (ELD) 2022 takes place on 25 October, as part of the European Day of Justice.

It celebrates the common values of lawyers, and their intrinsic role in the defence and promotion of the rule of law, as well as their contribution to the justice system.

Run by the CCBE since 2014, the goal of ELD is to promote the rule of law, and the lawyer’s role in upholding legal principles for citizens.

Law in times of war

Following the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in February, the theme selected this year is ‘Making the law prevail in times of war – the role of lawyers’.

Lawyers play an important role in the context of war by assisting people fleeing conflict and in search of haven, the CCBE says.

European Lawyers’ Day amplifies the various initiatives taken by Bars and Law Societies, as well as lawyers and law firms, in reaction to humanitarian crises resulting from conflicts.

ELD also recognises how lawyers safeguard individual human rights, and how they represent victims of war in war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Information on events to mark the day will be available on the CCBE website.

The chair of the CCBE Criminal Law Committee Ondrej Laciak has also written an article entitled ‘Lawyers upholding justice in times of war’, to mark this year’s event.



Ukraine/Russia: Crimean lawyers associate deprivation of their status in Chechnya with persecution


The Department for Chechnya of the Ministry of Justice has succeeded in pressure on the local bar association to withdraw the status of three of its former members working in Crimea. The disqualified lawyers associated the decision with political persecution and plan to appeal against it, human rights defenders report.

The Chamber of Lawyers of Chechnya has deprived lawyers Lilya Gemedji, Rustem Kyamilev, and Nazim Sheikhmambetov of their professional status. As a result, the lawyers cannot participate in criminal cases and are not eligible to take an exam for re-acquisition of status within a year, the civil rights project “For Human Rights”* reported on its website on August 4.

The lawyers are already preparing complaints that they can send to a court and the Federal Chamber, Nazim Sheikhmambetov reports.

“It is unprecedented when three lawyers are simultaneously deprived of their status. Nothing of that kind has happened during eight years of advocacy activities, including of our colleagues in Crimea,” Nazim Sheikhmambetov noted. The lawyer associates the decision “with political persecution by the law enforcement bodies,” human rights defenders report.

*In February 2019, the Russian Ministry of Justice (MoJ) included the All-Russian public movement “For Human Rights” into the register of NCOs acting as a foreign agent. On November 1 of the same year, the movement “For Human Rights” was liquidated by the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) of Russia.






https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/fr/statement-report/crimea-ukraine-crackdown-crimean-lawyers (FRANCAIS)



In a room of his modest apartment, Roman Melnichenko, 49, has two backpacks ready, one in case he is arrested, another in case he has to escape from Russia.

“I must be ready,” says this brilliant law professor who lives in Volgograd (southwest), former Stalingrad, and has been in resistance since the beginning of the Russian offensive in Ukraine.

Like Melnichenko, the few Russian university professors and students who publicly criticized the conflict were punished, detained or forced into exile.

Similar processes affect primary and secondary school teachers, who, according to Melnichenko, are under more intense pressure.

“The intellectual elite can deprive the ruling elite of the basis of their power, hence this brutal reaction,” says this man with a discreet gray mustache, and acknowledges that the overwhelming majority of teachers are silent and do not seek to stimulate critical thinking.

On March 31, Roman Melnichenko was summoned by an ethics commission at Volgograd State University, where he had been working since 2016. Immediately afterward, he was detained by three policemen.

He is accused of having shared on social media, between February 24 and March 4, posts denouncing the operation in Ukraine, especially a video showing the death of a girl in a Mariupol hospital.

Previously, he was ordered by his management to suppress those posts, which he did.

state of shock

The opposition of this father of an 11-year-old daughter to the conflict was instinctive: both parents live in Nikopol, a city in southern Ukraine very close to the war front.

“I’ve been in shock for three months… it’s my parents,” he says before stopping with tears in his eyes.

On April 15, he was fired from his university for “immoral.” And he was sentenced on June 7 to a fine of 30,000 rubles (460 euros) for spreading “false information”, a sum that corresponds to his monthly salary.

Fortunately, his wife, Zoïa Melnitchenko, ensures the finances of the couple: she is a manicurist, a lucrative activity. “Russia will go under the day they ban manicurists,” says Roman Melnichenko before bursting out laughing.

This lawyer was far from politics like many Russians who see this activity as a source of problems.

In the past, two university establishments did not renew their contracts. One for having denounced a case of corruption, the other because he addressed the issue of the annexation of Crimea in a course, he said. But his dismissal for “immorality” is more serious.

Roman Melnichenko filed a lawsuit in court to annul that decision which, if confirmed, will prevent him from finding a job in Russia.


https://www.rtl.fr/actu/international/russie-un-professeur-d-universite-licencie-pour-avoir-critique-l-invasion-de-l-ukraine-7900173697 (FRANCAIS)

https://www.eldebate.com/internacional/20220614/revuelta-profesor-melnichenko-rusia-tengo-mochila-lista-cuando-me-detengan.html (ESPANOL)


https://istoe.com.br/na-russia-a-revolta-do-professor-melnichenko/ (PORTUGUES)