Open letter issued by a group of prominent representatives of the legal community in Russia


We, being professionally engaged in law, are obliged to observe that in the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Russian Constitution the constitutional system of the country is under threat. The fundamental provisions of the Constitution and, above all, the constitutional description of Russia as a law-governed state, have become, in essence, an empty declaration.

Can one talk about the legal nature of the state in the context of the open warfare being waged by the public authorities against our emerging civil society? The word "warfare" is not a figure of speech, because we cannot help sensing that the actions of almost all public authorities are being coordinated. That applies even to those whose purpose is to protect the constitutional and fundamental rights of the individual. The legislative work of Parliament has become distinctly prohibitive and repressive.

Law enforcement and intelligence agencies — the Investigation Committee, the internal affairs bodies, Federal Security Service, the prosecutor's office — are engaged in coarse and sometimes deliberate cynical violations of the constitutional and other legal norms, even fabricating criminal and administrative cases against those who criticize the authorities.

Finally, the courts — the only authority to which citizens have recourse for the protection of their rights — are "legalising" these violations by bringing biased and often manifestly unjust convictions on the basis of one-sided or even falsified evidence.

In Russia, where the law has many times been under attack, an anti-legal tradition is being further reinforced on the basis that "might is right". Law in its true sense is disappearing before our eyes, like sharkskin, because one of the unshakable foundations of law - the equality of all before the law and the courts - is being trampled. At the same time the institutions whose purpose is to preserve and defend the law are collapsing.

We believe it is our professional and civic duty to draw public attention to the danger of the current situation and to publicly declare our opposition to it.

Traanslation Natasha Tsymbalova

Orginal letter and list of supporters

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