Moscow Lawyer Faces Disciplinary Proceedings for Activism

Evgeny Arkhipov at a rally in October. Source: rusadvocat.comThe qualifications commission of the Moscow City Bar is threatening to strip Solidarity member Evgeny Arkhipov of his status as a lawyer, according to a November 3 press release from the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights.

According to the press release, the twelve-person commission believes that lawyers have no right to engage in social activism. On this basis, the commission held a session on October 28 to demand an initiation for disciplinary proceedings against Arkhipov.

Arkhipov says he had only been given a day’s notice about the session, despite being required to attend. He asserts that upon arrival, members of the commission “didn’t let me say a single word, blamed me for some absurd things, and screamed endlessly.” He also said that they failed to introduce themselves or name their posts.

The press release asserted that “Such prohibitions are established neither in the law ‘On advocacy’ nor in the ‘Code of Advocatory Ethics,’ which the commission referred to, nor in the Constitution of the Russian Federation.”

In a statement to, Moscow City Bar President Henri Reznik affirmed that lawyers have the right to participate in social activism.

In Arkhipov’s opinion, the attack is connected with his role as organizer for an October 10 rally opposing toll roads that the local population had voted down overwhelmingly. His membership in the opposition movement Solidarity also likely plays a role.

The next session of the qualifications commission will take place on November 11, where Arkhipov will be required to explain the basis of his social activism.

A combination of assassination attempts and increasing Kremlin control over the judicial system has created a hostile environment for Russian lawyers in recent years. In a high-profile case last January, Lawyer Stanislav Markelov was shot dead in broad daylight in Moscow along with Novaya Gazeta journalist Anastasia Baburova.

Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov was scathing of his indictment of Russian President Dmitri Medvedev’s silence on Markelov’s killing. “The president always talks about superiority of the law. A lawyer was killed carrying out his duties and the president, a lawyer himself, could not even find one word to say.”