Tag Archives: Russia

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)

Russia/Ukraine: How independent lawyers are ‘silenced’ in Crimea


At the end of May, yet another wave of detentions and arrests swept through the occupied Crimea. The distinction is that all those detained and arrested this time turned out to be independent Crimean lawyers who regularly work with defendants in politically motivated cases.

This article is about the charges brought against lawyers, the course of their trials, and the consequences these prosecutions will lead to.

Guilty of being a lawyer

Of all four lawyers, only the first detainee, Edem Semedliayev, who has been dealing with dozen criminal cases against Crimean Muslims, was charged with an offense not directly related to his professional activity. On April 16, a user posted a publication criticizing Russia’s war in Ukraine on Semedliayev’s Facebook page. The security officers took a screenshot of this publication, waited for another month, and then detained Semedliayev to draw up a report under Article 20.3.3 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation for discrediting the Russian army. Moreover, Part 2 of the Article, which implies some serious consequences, was referred to.

The other three lawyers found themselves in the dock for a much more dubious reason. Half a year ago, Edem Semedliayev worked in one of the police departments after the mass arrests of Muslims near the Crimean Garrison Court. His activity angered greatly Ruslan Shambazov, the head of the Simferopol department of the Center for Combating Extremism, who demanded that the lawyer take off his clothes and demonstrate that there are no extremist tattoos on his body. When Semedliayev refused, a report was drawn up against him for disobeying the lawful demands of police officers and he was detained. At least three of his colleagues – Nazym Sheikhmambetov, Ayder Azamatov, and Emine Avamileva – responded to those actions. At 01:00, when they left the police station, the people who had gathered near asked them to tell them what would happen to Semedliayev and what he was accused of. Half a year later, Shambazov qualified that interview as an administrative offense committed by all three lawyers, namely participation in spontaneous gatherings of citizens that caused violations of sanitary regulations.




‘We Save Everyone’: The Lawyers Helping Russian Soldiers Evade Service in Ukraine


For legal adviser Andrei Rinchino, each day begins by sorting through dozens of new messages from Russian soldiers and their families. 

Each message is different but all are looking for the same thing: Rinchino’s guidance on how to quit the Russian army or avoid being sent to fight in Ukraine. 

“A couple of weeks ago one of my followers wrote to me that her son and some of his fellow soldiers at the front handed in their notices,” said Rinchino, who is head of the legal department at the Free Buryatia Foundation, an anti-war organization founded by members of Russia’s indigenous Buryat community. 

“A hundred people all [resigned] at the same time,” he told The Moscow Times. 

Since the start of Russia’s bloody invasion of Ukraine in February, thousands of Russian contract soldiers and National Guard employees have refused to be sent into battle. 

Helping these conscientious objectors are a handful of Russian human rights organizations, NGOs and individuals with legal training. But, as the Kremlin looks to shore up support for the war and crush dissent, Russian lawyers have faced an unprecedented wave of pressure. 

“Even before [the invasion], the atmosphere in the country was not the best for working as a lawyer, but since the beginning of the war things have become absolutely horrible,” said prominent human rights lawyer Ivan Pavlov, who left Russia last year.


Mikhail Benyash, a lawyer in Russia’s southern Krasnodar region, took on the case of 12 National Guard soldiers who were fired after refusing to take part in the invasion. All disputed their dismissal in court — and three pressed charges against their former employer.  

A vocal critic of the Kremlin and the Ukraine war, Benyash has been arrested and reportedly even assaulted by National Guard servicemen tasked with quelling anti-government protests. Despite these experiences, he was still happy to help National Guard soldiers. 


As Russia seeks to plug a manpower shortage among its forces in Ukraine, the risks for Russia-based lawyers helping soldiers to avoid the frontlines are only likely to rise.

“Everything that has to deal with the war is very sensitive for the state. Extremely sensitive,” said lawyer Pavlov, who was accused of treason by Russian investigators last year in what he linked to his involvement in the legal defense of journalist Ivan Safronov. 

“Of course, when examining a case somehow connected or associated [with the war], then the judge will always consider the signals they receive from the higher-ups,” Pavlov told The Moscow Times.  

Another lawyer involved in the Safronov case, Dmitriy Talantov, was arrested last month on charges of spreading “fake information” about the Russian army and faces up to 10 years in prison if found guilty. And a court in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad last month ordered lawyer Mariya Bontsler to pay a $1,000 fine for questioning Russia’s actions in Ukraine. 

Rinchino, who is conducting his work from abroad, said that the pressure on his in-country colleagues is “massive” — though no one is planning to give up just yet.

“We are not working alone on this issue and that makes me happy,” he said. “I personally wish for more contract soldiers to reach out to me.” 




Russia Cracks Down on War Critics As Official Jailed for 7 Years


Moscow municipal deputy Alexei Gorinov on Friday became the first person to receive a long-term sentence under stringent new laws that crack down on opposition to Vladimir Putin‘s Ukraine war.

Gorinov, a deputy at Moscow’s Krasnoselsky district council and a trained lawyer, was sentenced by a court in Russia’s capital to seven years in a penal colony for criticizing what Putin calls a “special military operation.” He was also banned from holding public office for four years after his release.

The 60-year-old was arrested on April 27 for spreading “knowingly false information” about Russia’s army during a session of the local assembly in Krasnoselsky.

In April, he stated his opposition to the council’s plans to hold a children’s art competition and a dancing festival in the local area amid the war in Ukraine, where he said “children were dying.”

“I believe all efforts of civil society should be aimed only at stopping the war and withdrawing Russian troops from the territory of Ukraine,” Gorinov said during a council meeting.

As the trial began Friday, the deputy stood up in court holding an anti-war sign that read: “Do you still need this war?”

His sentence comes amid a wider crackdown on free speech in Russia, which intensified after Putin launched a full-scale war against Ukraine on February 24.

In March, Russia’s parliament passed legislation imposing a jail term of up to 15 years for intentionally spreading “fake” news about Russia’s army. The Kremlin has used the law to crack down on those who veer from Putin’s narrative of the war.







https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2022/07/08/guerre-en-ukraine-alexei-gorinov-elu-municipal-russe-condamne-a-sept-ans-de-prison-pour-avoir-denonce-le-conflit_6134004_3210.html (FRANCAIS)


https://www.open.online/2022/07/08/russia-alexei-gorinov-processo-cartello-foto/ (ITALIANO)

Russian Lawyer Detained After Criticizing Ukraine Shopping-Mall Strike


The chairman of the attorneys chamber in Russia’s Udmurtia region, Dmitry Talantov, has been detained after he criticized the government and military forces over a deadly strike on a shopping mall in the Ukrainian city of Kremenchuk.

Talantov wrote on Facebook that he was detained on June 28 and taken handcuffed to the Investigative Committee for questioning.

The Society of Russian Lawyers wrote on Telegram that Talantov was detained as he was trying to fly to Moscow.

No official reason has been given for Talantov’s detention.

On June 27, when news of the deadly missile attack broke, Talantov condemned the strike, calling the Russian authorities “scumbags.”

Talantov also is the lawyer for Ivan Safronov, a prominent former Russian journalist who is on trial in Moscow on a high-treason charge widely considered to be politically motivated.

At least 18 people died in the missile strike in Kremenchuk, which leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) called “a war crime.”




New Zealand refuses asylum for Russian legal academic


New Zealand has refused to grant asylum to a human rights lawyer and academic who spoke out about election fixing in Russia.

The woman and her two children fear being killed or seriously harmed in Russia by police or state security services after reporting the electoral fraud and because of her involvement in supporting opposition to the Russian government.

They claimed refugee status, but have been told their risk of harm is no more than “remote and speculative”.

The 53-year-old, who was a lawyer specialising in civil law and human rights, had worked as a senior university law lecturer and later associate professor, but was forced to resign after she publicised her concerns about voting irregularities.

She was a volunteer monitor at a 2016 election held to elect candidates for the forthcoming state parliamentary elections.

Her 27-year-old son was an observer at a different polling station and saw a large bundle of votes stuffed into a ballot box by an election official. About 400 people had come through the school hall doors to vote, but more than 1200 ballot papers were later counted.

She sent a report to the election supervising committee and she and her son attended a press conference held by a journalist and former parliamentarian at which she confirmed voting irregularities.

She later spoke about it at an academic conference hosted by a government ministry and wrote an article for an academic journal.

The family arrived in New Zealand three years later, with the woman saying the political situation in Russia and silencing of dissenting voices and opinions had worsened. She was concerned her posts, blogs and appearances at protests would lead to consequences for her family if they returned to Russia.