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CRIMEA: Lawyer Emil Kurbedinov harassed by the Russian authorities

21 March 2024


Emil Kurbedinov is a Crimean human rights lawyer.The winner of the 2017 Front Line Defenders award is particularly active in the defence of human rights in Russian-occupied Crimea. On 15 February 2024, he was targeted by the Russian de-facto authorities for a post deemed to “[abuse] the freedom of mass information.

Mr Kurbedinov provides legal assistance to Crimean Tatars, journalists, activists, who are victims of human rights violations, and political prisoners from the penninsula. He also uses social networks to denounce human rights violations in occupied Crimea.

In 2017, Emil Kurbedinov was first sentenced to 10 days’ administrative detention for “public dissemination of extremist content.” He was sentenced a second time in 2018 to 5 days’ administrative detention on the same grounds. The lawyer was prosecuted for a publication dated2013, which displayed symbols of Hizb ut-Tahrir,an organisation considered to be terrorist in Russia since 2003; Ukraine never considered Hizb ut-Tahrir as extremist, and refrained from persecuting it’s representatives.

The lawyer has been threatened with disbarment from the Crimean Bar Association: in December 2018, he received a letter from the Ministry of Justice. The judicial persecution of the lawyer reflects an alarming rise in censorship since the annexation and illegal occupation of Crimea in 2014.

The Observatory strongly condemns the harassment of Emil Kurbedinov by the Russian de-facto authorities.

The Observatory urges the Russian authorities to put an end to the censorship of human rights lawyers in Crimea.

The Observatory recalls paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which state that ” 1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.; 2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.“.

Similarly, the Observatory points out that, in accordance with the United Nations basic principles on the role of the Bar, in particular principles 16 and 23:

Principle 16: “Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (…)”

Principle 23: Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights and to join or form local, national or international organizations and attend their meetings, without suffering professional restrictions by reason of their lawful action or their membership in a lawful organization. In exercising these rights, lawyers shall always conduct themselves in accordance with the law and the recognized standards and ethics of the legal profession.”