Today the Associated Press is reporting that the The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights has released a statement accusing the Russian government of attempting to discredit the reputation of lawyer Karinna Moskalenko by trying to disbar her. RA has blogged about Moskalenko here and here, and has issued a statement in her defense. You can also read a nine-page PDF written by Moskalenko here detailing the campaign of harassment against her.
Rights group accuses Russian authorities of campaign to discredit lawyer The Associated Press Tuesday, May 8, 2007 MOSCOW: An international rights group accused Russian authorities on Tuesday of harassing a lawyer and seeking to disbar her for filing complaints about alleged human rights violations in the European Court of Human Rights. The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights said Russian prosecutors had requested that Karinna Moskalenko be disbarred on grounds that she allegedly violated professional ethics rules, failed to adequately assist a client and obstructed investigations. Moskalenko has defended former chess champion-turned-Kremlin foe Garry Kasparov after he was detained during a protest last month, as well as billionaire oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Her nongovernment organization, the Center for International Protection, has brought dozens of rights cases to the European Court of Human Rights, more than 20 of which have resulted in rulings against Russia, according to the federation. The effort to disbar Moskalenko “is an apparent attempt at discrediting and punishing her for her work on politically inconvenient cases and at establishing an example for other lawyers in this field,” Aaron Rhodes, the federation’s executive director, said in a statement. “Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues … have, in fact, done a service to Russian society by assisting citizens to seek and obtain remedy for human rights violations, and deserve recognition, not persecution,” he said. The federation said Russian prosecutors’ request to disbar Moskalenko would be heard by a Moscow City Bar committee later this month or next. It also said Moskalenko’s organization had faced a tax audit, unfavorable tax rulings and other administrative inspections in recent years. Moskalenko could not be reached for comment Tuesday either in Moscow or in Strasbourg, France, where the European court is based. No one answered the phones at the Russian Prosecutor General’s office after hours.