Injustice Belarus
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Nicolas

BY 2020.10.15 The authorities hit the lawyers, but aim at their clients.

Pressure on lawyers and deprivation of their license is, first of all, an attempt to leave their clients without legal assistance.

Lawyer Alexander Pylchenko License Suspended

Alexander Pylchenko

To Whom It Happened

Qualification Commission on Advocacy Issues under the Ministry of Justice On October 15, accepted the recommendation to suspend the license of lawyer Alexander Pylchenko.

Pylchenko received a notification about the consideration of this issue on October 7. In the materials that served as the basis for this, there is a printed publication from the website TUT.by dated August 14, which contains Pylchenko’s commentary on the powers, rights, and obligations of state bodies, including the Prosecutor General’s Office.

“Also in the materials, there was a printed text of a commentator from a recent release of the ONT TV program, in which he, on the basis of that publication, accused me of allegedly calling someone to something, ”Pylchenko told BelaPAN”.

Pylchenko received his lawyer’s license in 1994. From April 2010 to March 2012, he was the chairman of the Minsk City Bar Association. He was also a member of the Qualification Commission for Advocacy.

Pressure on him began in February 2011, when the Minsk City Bar Association decided not to punish colleagues who defended the detained protesters after the December 19, 2010, presidential elections. On the basis of the order of the Minister of Justice, Pylchenko was expelled from the qualification commission on issues of advocacy, and then removed from the post of chairman.

The Qualification Commission also recommended today to suspend the license of the lawyer Yulia Levanchuk. She represents the interests of the owner of the flower shop Maxim Khoroshin. In August, Khoroshin distributed flowers to women who were in chains of solidarity, and on October 13, he was detained and taken to the Internal Affairs Directorate of the Pervomaisky District of Minsk. Later, a video appeared on social networks of a badly beaten man an ambulance takes away from the police.

Yulia Levanchuk received her lawyer’s license in 2009 and is a member of the Brest Bar Association.

Why the license was revoked

As noted in comments of the Ministry of Justice, the qualification commission considered defamatory actions against Alexander Pylchenko that he “made incompetent comments in the media and actually called for illegal actions, including “ blocking and disarming military units ”… mislead the public about the powers of state bodies and do not comply with procedural norms.

The Ministry of Justice believes that a lawyer “can communicate with the media on any topical issues.” At the same time, “the rules of professional ethics of a lawyer establish that when providing information to the media, a lawyer should use only reliable information.”

Yulia Levanchuk was recommended by the commission to revoke her license on the basis of information received that she “initiated a correspondence with the investigator, in which she made threats against him and his family members”.

Political overtones

Pressure on lawyers and revocation of their licenses is, first of all, an attempt to leave their clients without legal assistance.

On October 9, Viktor Babariko wrote an appeal to the Ministry of Justice in connection with Pylchenko’s summons to the commission.

“I regard the intention to deprive my defender of the license as a violation of my right to defense and pressure on me. I no longer have the opportunity to use the legal assistance of attorney Maxim Znak, who was given a power of attorney to represent my interests in courts, including on issues of exercising electoral rights. Now he is in custody, ” Babariko said.

Maria Kolesnikova wrote a similar statement to the Ministry of Justice. She stressed that the lawyers Maksim Znak and Ilya Salei, who previously represented her interests, are involved in the criminal case and were detained. The lawyer, Lyudmila Kazak, was abducted, placed in a temporary detention facility, and then brought to administrative responsibility. According to Kolesnikova, the situation with Pylchenko “clearly indicates the insecurity of the implementation” of her defense.

The revocation of Oleksandr Pylchenko’s lawyer’s license can be regarded as politically motivated, noted Tamara Sidorenko, a lawyer of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, in a comment for Naviny.by, who defended Uladzimir Nyaklyaev and Ales Mikhalevich in 2011. She herself was deprived of her lawyer’s license on formal grounds.

“The decision to deprive Pylchenko of his license can be regarded as politically motivated. Attention was drawn to him precisely because he spoke about the socio-political situation in the country. Finally, Pylchenko is a lawyer for individuals, some of whom have been recognized as political prisoners, ” Sidorenko said.

She does not understand “what Pylchenko’s comments in the media the Ministry of Justice call incompetent.” In addition, in her opinion, the statement of the Ministry of Justice that Pylchenko “actually called for unlawful actions” is a value judgment that “is not based on anything – there is no information about what specific actions the lawyer called for and where exactly the call was contained” …

“This is an attempt to grab a lawyer’s tongue. What happened can be regarded as pressure on the lawyer Pylchenko and intimidation of other lawyers so that it would be discordant, ” Tamara Sidorenko said.

She noted that there are other ways to indicate to the lawyer about the mistake “if we admit that there was one” “There are more lenient disciplinary measures for lawyers. In the end, in case of a serious violation, the license can be suspended for six months, ”the lawyer said.

However, to Alexander Pylchenko, a lawyer who has extensive experience and “was not noticed in anything reprehensible,” “extreme measures were immediately taken.”

“Based on this, the question arises, why is the head off the shoulders at once? In the comments of the Ministry of Justice, I do not see the answer to this question. Perhaps this answer is contained in the conclusion of the commission, but the public was not informed about it, ” Sidorenko concluded. 

What does revocation mean?

The decision of the qualification commission is approved by the Ministry of Justice. Then the action of the Ministry of Justice can be appealed in court. If the court leaves the department’s decision in force, Pylchenko and Levanchuk will not have the right to engage in advocacy.

After three years, you can try to pass the qualifying exam and generally get a new license. However, Tamara Sidorenko does not remember cases when lawyers who had been deprived of their licenses and who were involved in defense in political cases were able to pass the exam again.

Thus, Anna Bakhtina, a well-known specialist in Belarus with 13 years of prosecutorial experience and 25 years of experience as a lawyer, was unable to pass the extraordinary qualification exam in 2017. Over the past ten years, she has defended many defendants in high-profile cases with political overtones.

Sources:
https://defenders.by/pylchenko_licenserevocation
https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/belarus-tightens-grip-lawyers-2021-08-23/
https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/belarus-crackdown-targets-political-activists-lawyers-100175818

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