15.04.2008 | Arkady Bushchenko

The Russian press on the influence of the Centre for Legal Aid on geopolitics


The Russian newspaper “Vedomosti” [“Gazette”] considers that the work of the Centre’s lawyers can influence geopolitics.

As reported here already, on 5 March 2008 Oleg Kuznetsov, a Russian businessman was granted asylum in Ukraine due to legitimate fears that his fundamental rights would be violated in the Russian Federation.

Quite unexpectedly, this rather modest event was interpreted by the newspaper within the context of the confrontation of Russian and Ukrainian military industry complexes and discussion around Ukraine’s joining of NATO.

While highly flattered by the fact that “Vedomosti” gives our work such geopolitical importance, we are impelled to mention that in defending Kuznetsov, we did not even know of the details of the interaction of the Ukrainian and Russian military industry complexes. Strange as it may seem to them, besides a geopolitical context, there are also considerations linked with the protection of fundamental human rights.

Mr Kuznetsov’s application is presently with the European Court of Human Rights. in it he complains, among other things, of the unclearness of the criminal laws making it impossible to differentiate between a civil and criminal offences, as well as of the widespread practice in the Russian Federation of using criminal prosecutions for resolving issues which in civilized countries are resolving through civil proceedings.  He refers to the fact that neither the authenticity nor the justification for the bills of exchange which he presented for payment were appealed by the debtor – the Klimov Factory through the courts. Instead, the management of the factory enlisted repressive bodies which had already shown their worth in the Gusinsky case (cf. Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights from 11 May 2004) as an effective method for holding commercial negotiations.

We would also point out that the criminal prosecution of Mr Kuznetsov was also stopped by the Russian law enforcement agencies, which give grounds for considering the charges presented to be fairly dubious. And how one can interpret such behaviour “against the background of the conflict over Kyiv’s wish to join NATO”, we leave for “Vedomosti” to fathom.

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