Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Most Russian Lawyers Still See Little Choice but to Cooperate with Prosecutors, Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 24 – In Soviet times, nearly everyone assumed Soviet lawyers in almost all cases were working for the state rather than for the defense. Now, many assume that the situation has changed and that Russian lawyers work first and foremost for their clients.  But a new Moscow study suggests otherwise, highlighting that may have changed but reality has not.

            Instead, the majority of lawyers, given that both part of the law enforcement system and independent professionals who are representatives of civil society, cooperate with investigators and prosecutors sometimes but not always to the benefit of their clients, according to Anton Kazun, a researcher at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics (

            Kazun bases that conclusion on a survey of 3317 lawyers across the Russian Federation – approximately 4.7 percent of all lawyers there  His full report, “Tactics of Interaction of Russian Lawyers with the Law Enforcement System: Between Cooperation and Opposition” is available at

            Slightly over half of all lawyers (52.6 percent) said they routinely cooperated with the authorities, while just under a third said they did not (slightly over 30 percent), Kazun found.  But what makes his research especially interesting is that he suggests the level of cooperation reflects both the nature of crimes involved and the status of the lawyers themselves.

            In criminal cases, lawyers are more likely to cooperate with the authorities than in civil cases where they can act more independently and professionally. At the same time, lawyers in smaller cities or in smaller or less experienced firms are more likely to cooperate with officials than are those in larger cities or in firms with more experience and prominent attorneys.

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