Sunday, April 14, 2024

Duma Votes to Geld Lawyers, Reducing Possibilities for Russians to Get a Real Defense

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Apr. 10 – The Duma has passed a bill that gives Moscow the power to strip lawyers who have fled Russia to practice there and restricts lawyers who have remained in Russia of their ability to defend Russians charged with crimes, thus limiting the possibilities for lawyers to call attention to abuse at a time when the Putin regime largely controls judges.

            Under the new law, lawyers will not be certified for life but only for three years at a time, allowing officials to strip them of their powers to act as defense attorneys, and the register of lawyers will be maintained by Moscow rather than by the regions (

            And the new measure restricts the powers of lawyers to seek information from the powers that be for their clients and even explicitly gives the powers that be the power to ignore requests from attorneys, something the authorities have often done even up to now but in violation of existing statutes.

            On the one hand, this is part of the general stratification of all aspects of life under the Putin regime; but on the other, and perhaps most seriously, it eliminates one of the most important defenses those that regime chooses to charge with crimes real or imagined and the possibilities for trained lawyers to call attention to the abuses of the system.

            Indeed, with this step, the last remaining opportunity for those charged with crimes to bring their innocence to the attention of the Russian people is their closing statements. But while these are still often carried by the ever-fewer remaining independent outlets, they are not reported by government media and thus do not reach the population as a whole.

            This reduces the courts to cogs in the state machine and eliminates the possibilities for Russians to defend themselves.  

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