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A Mugging in Moscow

omon1125.jpgI’ve just got off the phone with my colleague Karinna Moskalenko, one of Garry Kasparov‘s brave lawyers, who once again finds herself working throughout the night to free her client from an arbitrary detention. Before posting my brief interview with her, I wanted to make sure that everyone understood what happened yesterday in Russia following the mass arrests of anti-Putin protesters. The State is using a summary administrative procedure to imprison political opponents – implementing the type of courts and “violations” that are meant to be used for traffic tickets and small monetary fines. All lawyers need to be alerted to this abuse of this administrative process for criminal sanctions, and as such, these decisions cannot be regarded with any legitimacy in rule of law courts. In Garry’s case – these administrative procedures were brought to bear against him with careful premeditation. According to Karinna and according to those that were present during the protest, hundreds of OMON were ready and waiting to carry out this specific act, like a pre-planned mugging. I believe it is clear under both European and international law that using administrative proceedings to mete out punishments, which include incarceration, implicate Article 6 protections under the European Convention for a fair trial, which appear to not have been followed in this case. There is a very simple way for those in the West who care about human rights to react to this event. Stop proclaiming Putin a “popular leader” while he uses his police power in a manner more typical of a despot than a democrat. When it comes to competitive elections and constitutional legitimacy, Vladimir Putin’s legacy has earned the asterisk. He is the Barry Bonds of due process (yes, I had to go there).