07MOSCOW3575, LAWYER LEAVES RUSSIA INSTEAD OF FACING CHARGES

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07MOSCOW3575 2007-07-20 14:17 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Moscow

VZCZCXRO8313
RR RUEHDBU
DE RUEHMO #3575/01 2011417
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 201417Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY MOSCOW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2268
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHXD/MOSCOW POLITICAL COLLECTIVE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSCOW 003575 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/13/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PINR RS
SUBJECT: LAWYER LEAVES RUSSIA INSTEAD OF FACING CHARGES 
 
 1. (C) SUMMARY: Well-known lawyer Boris Kuznetsov fled 
Russia, after being criminally charged for revealing state 
secrets in defense of a client. Members of the Moscow legal 
 
SIPDIS 
community see these charges as political and as a warning 
from the Kremlin. END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (U) On July 11, the Moscow Tverskoy district court ruled 
that well-known lawyer Boris Kuznetsov revealed state secrets 
in his defense of former Federation Council Senator Levon 
Chakhmakhchyan, who stands accused of corruption. The court's 
ruling allowed for the opening of a criminal case against 
Kuznetsov, which was announced by the Moscow prosecutor's 
office on July 17. The criminal charges accuse Kuznetsov of 
publicizing state secrets when he submitted an appeal to the 
Constitutional Court on behalf of Chakhmakhchyan. In this 
appeal, he provided evidence that the Federal Security 
Service wiretapped his client's telephone. Kuznetsov did not 
attend the hearing on July 11. According to subsequent news 
reports, Kuznetsov is in an undisclosed location in Europe, 
and may request political asylum. 
 
3. (U) Kuznetsov is a prominent and experienced lawyer who is 
known for representing high-profile, controversial clients. 
Most recently, he represented Manana Aslamazian, the former 
head of Educated Media Foundation, who is facing smuggling 
and other charges. Kuznetsov has also represented the family 
of murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the families of 
the victims of the Kursk submarine disaster. Earlier, he 
represented Igor Sutyagin, a scientist and arms control 
researcher who was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2004 on 
charges of high treason. He was also involved in the defense 
of convicted oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovskiy. 
 
LAWYERS AND OTHERS REACT 
------------------------ 
 
4. (C) Karina Moskalenko, a lawyer who represents 
Khodorkovskiy and has brought cases before the European Court 
of Human Rights, told us July 17 that in Russia, once a 
lawyer is convicted, he or she can no longer practice law. 
She also suggested that Kuznetsov's departure from Russia may 
be related to his age and declining health, which might not 
withstand a difficult trial and prison sentence. She saw 
three signals in the developments around Kuznetsov: 1) a 
warning to Russian lawyers about what they might encounter if 
they do not comply with the demands of state leadership; 2) a 
message to all defendants, telling them not to place hope in 
their advocates who could easily be forced to leave their 
cases; and 3) a reminder to the Russian population that they 
live in a country where the legal system is incapable of 
serving justice. (Moskalenko has had her own share of legal 
troubles. Recently, she faced disbarment procedures brought 
by the Russian Prosecutor General's Office and backed by the 
Ministry of Justice. The Moscow Bar Association ultimately 
decided not to disbar her.) 
 
5. (C) Yuriy Schmidt, another lawyer involved in the 
Khodorkovskiy case, told us July 18 that he also considered 
the criminal case opened against Kuznetsov as targeted at the 
legal profession, which has become "too independent" in the 
eyes of the Kremlin. Kuznetsov, Schmidt thought, was picked 
because he is well-known and the Kremlin wanted to make the 
point that even a national or international reputation cannot 
insure against prosecution. Just as the Khodorkovskiy case 
was used to send a signal to all oligarchs, the Kuznetsov 
case is being used to warn all lawyers that they should toe 
the Kremlin line. It is not a coincidence, Schmidt noted, 
that Kuznetsov, Moskalenko, and he, as defenders of 
Khordorkovskiy, have experienced trouble with the 
authorities. Schmidt dismissed suggestions that Kuznetsov's 
problems stemmed from his work on the Politkovskaya case. 
 
6. (C) In addition to attacks on prominent lawyers, there 
have been changes in the law that will make it easier to take 
action against lawyers in the future, Schmidt noted. 
Beginning in September, the Prosecutor General will be able 
to open criminal cases directly. They will no longer have to 
wait for a court decision, as in the Kuznetsov case. 
According to Genri Reznik, who heads the association of 
lawyers in Moscow, Kuznetsov can count on the support of the 
legal community. He said this is not the first time a lawyer 
has been targeted for political reasons and it won't be the 
last. If the situation is not resolved in two weeks, Reznik 
promised action by the association. Unlike his colleagues, 
however, Reznik did not paint the charges against Kuznetsov 
as an attack on all lawyers. 
 
7. (C) COMMENT: The fact that a prominent attorney like 
Kuznetsov has opted to flee the country rather than defend 
himself against charges could have a chilling effect on the 
willingness of other attorneys to take on cases in which the 
state has an interest. 
 
MOSCOW 00003575  002 OF 002 
 
 
BURNS

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