The Mission condemns another attempt by the Russian Federation to illegally terminate the professional activities of independent lawyers in the temporarily occupied Crimea to prevent their participation in the defense of illegally persecuted Ukrainian citizens.
According to the Crimean Solidarity, the Bar Association of the Chechen Republic deprived lawyers Lilya Gemedzhi, Rustem Kamilev and Nazim Sheikhmambetov of the right to practice law. Now the lawyers cannot participate in criminal cases, defend their clients, represent them during pre-trial investigations and in courts. In addition, they are not allowed to take the bar exam for a full year.
According to Nazim Sheikhmambetov, this decision was made on the basis of a submission from the Department of the Ministry of Justice in the Chechen Republic to the Bar Association, which included the lawyers.
Their professional status was terminated at the request of a state body, and not on the basis of a client’s complaint, as is usually the case in legal practice. The decision was made without actually notifying the parties of the meeting. For example, Lilya Hemedzhi was notified of the hearing one day before the meeting of the qualification commission. The lawyers are already preparing complaints about the unlawful deprivation of their attorneys’ status and the right to practice law for at least the next year.
According to Sheikhmambetov, for all the years of occupation of Crimea, this is the first time when three lawyers were deprived of their professional status simultaneously and instantly. This is a sign of political persecution by the Russian Federation and obstruction of the professional activities of defense lawyers.
The pressure and persecution of independent lawyers defending Ukrainian citizens – prisoners of the Kremlin – by the occupation administrations of Crimea has been going on for years, but has significantly intensified since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia. Detention and illegal arrests of lawyers Emil Kurbedinov, Edem Semedlyayev, Ayder Azamatov, Emine Avamileva, Nazim Sheikhmambetov. Attacks on the lawyer’s office of Emil Kurbedinov, warnings to Lilya Hemedzhi about the inadmissibility of allegedly uncoordinated actions, regular obstruction of access to clients, discrediting campaigns against independent lawyers in the occupation media and other forms of pressure.
We demand from the Russian Federation to immediately stop the wave of repressions against independent lawyers and any form of obstruction of their professional activities.
We call on the international community and the legal profession to react and condemn the systematic persecution of independent lawyers, violation of standards and guarantees of legal practice in the occupied Crimea.
We ask journalists to cover the situations of pressure and obstruction of the work of independent lawyers in the temporarily occupied Crimea as widely as possible. Defense lawyers are one of the few last channels of communication and protection of political prisoners illegally detained by the Russian Federation in the occupation.
The only way to stop the lawlessness is to de-occupy Crimea, and in the meantime we must make every effort to fight for the rights of all our citizens!