Rule of Law Institute
  Persecution of Advocates

Russian Federation: Fear for safety, Stanislav MARKELOV (m), aged 29, human rights lawyer

Amnesty International is seriously concerned for the safety of human rights
lawyer, Stanislav Markelov, following a recent attack on him by a group of five
men, whilst he was travelling on the Moscow metro. It is feared that he has
been targeted for his work as a lawyer on behalf of victims in several key
human rights cases, a number of which relate to the conflict in Chechnya.

At around 11:30pm on 16 April, Stanislav Markelov was attacked as he travelled
home on the metro by a group of five men in their twenties. According to
Stanislav Markelov, the men, who wore civilian clothing, surrounded him and
shouted: "You got what you’re asking for. No more speeches for you [in court]
then". They then hit him on the head with a heavy object, causing him to lose
consciousness. He woke up two hours later at the last metro station. His mobile
phone, which contained the phone numbers of all his clients, was missing as
were various identity documents, including his lawyer’s licence card, his
passport and an entry card for the State Duma. He later discovered that various
documents from the case files of his clients were also missing from his bag. He
was surprised that neither his money, nor his expensive Swiss watch had been
stolen in the attack. Without his lawyer’s card, he is currently unable to
appear in court until a replacement is issued.

Stanislav Markelov went home, where his wife called the emergency services. He
was then taken to the City Hospital No 68, where he was diagnosed as suffering
from concussion and the doctors asked to hospitalize him, although he refused
to stay. After recovering at home for two days, on 19 April Stanislav Markelov
visited the Moscow Department of Internal Affairs No 8 in charge of providing
security in the metro, in order to file a complaint about the attack. The
police officers on duty reportedly told Stanislav Markelov that the medical
certificate of the injuries he sustained was fake and insisted that he filed a
complaint about "lost property", but not about the violent attack against him.
On 21 April, Stanislav Markelov filed a complaint about the attack with the
Moscow City Department of Internal Affairs. A criminal investigation into the
events has reportedly not yet been opened.

Among the missing case documents were those relating to the trial of Sergei
Lapin (known as "Kadet"), who has been charged in connection with the
"disappearance" and torture of Chechen student Zelimkhan Murdalov, whose family
is represented by Stanislav Markelov. Sergei Lapin served in Chechnya as a
member of the special police detachment (OMON) from the Khanty-Mansyski region
in the Russian Federation which was operating in Grozny. Zelimkhan Murdalov
"disappeared" on 2 January 2001 after having been detained by Russian OMON
forces in Grozny. Witnesses claimed that he was tortured to death in police

On 7 January 2001, a criminal investigation was opened into Zelimkhan Murdalov’
s "disappearance". In September 2001, journalist Anna Politkovskaya published
an article in Novaya Gazeta newspaper called "The Disappearing People", in
which she spoke about the allegations connecting Sergei Lapin and his OMON
colleagues to the torture of Zelimkhan Murdalov. Following the publication of
this article, Anna Politkovskaya received two letters containing threats to her
life, reportedly written by Sergei Lapin. The Office of the Procurator of the
city of Nizhnevartovsk in Khanty-Mansyski region opened a criminal
investigation in October 2001 into Sergei Lapin’s involvement in threatening
the safety of Anna Politkovskaya. This investigation had been reportedly closed
and renewed at least nine times and in November 2003 it was transferred to the
Regional Office of the Procurator of Khanty-Mansyski Autonomous Region of the
Russian Federation. Stanislav Markelov also represents Anna Politkovskaya.

In January 2002, Sergei Lapin was arrested and charged in connection with the
allegations of torture of Zelimkhan Murdalov in detention. Sergei Lapin was
released pending trial in May 2003 because he was found not to be threatening
to the public safety. His trial began in Grozny at the end of 2003, but he
reportedly has not attended any of the hearings so far because he claimed he
suffered a mental illness. However, according to reports, he was first
dismissed from OMON, but later reinstated as a police officer in the city of
Nizhnevartovsk, where he currently serves. Reportedly, he was recently awarded
a medal "For Protecting Public Order", accompanied by a letter, signed by the
Russian President.

Amnesty International continues to receive reports concerning the harassment
and intimidation of activists, NGOs and lawyers in connection with the conflict
in Chechnya. For example, there has been a pattern of harassment of people from
Chechnya who have petitioned the European Court of Human Rights, as well as
those who are defending the rights of victims of abuses. Human rights groups in
the region have also faced increasing levels of harassment and intimidation. A
number of activists have been "disappeared" and/or extra-judicially executed.

29 April 2004
Source: Amnesty International (UA 160/04 Fear for safety)

IBA expresses concern about recent attack on lawyer in Moscow, Russia, May 2004


His Excellency
Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
g. Moskva, Kreml
Russian Federation

Fax: +7 095 230 24 08
10 May 2004

Your Excellency,

I am writing on behalf of the International Bar Association to express our concern about a recent attack in Moscow upon a lawyer, Stanislav Markelov.

The International Bar Association (IBA) is a global federation of lawyers, Law Societies and Bar Associations that works to influence the development of international law reform and shape the future of the legal profession. Its 194 Member Organisations and 16,000 individual members cover all continents. The IBA’s Human Rights Institute works across the association, helping to promote, protect and enforce human rights under a just rule of law, and to preserve the independence of the judiciary and legal profession world-wide.

The IBA has been informed that around 11:30 pm on 16 April 2004, Mr. Markelov was attacked by five men on the Moscow metro. The men surrounded him and reportedly made several threatening statements to him, including one that referred to his activities in court, and then hit him on the head with a heavy object which rendered him unconscious. When Mr. Markelov regained consciousness he discovered that his mobile phone, his identity documents including his passport and his lawyers card, and several documents from his case files had been stolen. However, his money and other valuables remained in his possession. Some of the documents taken from his case files related to the trial of Sergi Lapin, a member of the Special Police Detachment (OMON) in Grozny, who has been charged with the torture and disappearance of an individual, Zelimkhan Murdalov.

On 19 April 2004, Mr. Markelov lodged a complaint about the attack with the Moscow department of Internal Affairs No. 8, who are responsible for maintaining security on the metro. Reportedly, the department refused to accept the medical certificate that Mr. Markelov had obtained from City Hospital No. 68 on 17 April 2004, claiming it was a fake and insisted that he simply file a complaint for lost property. On 21 April 2004, Mr. Markelov lodged a complaint about the attack with the Moscow City Department of Internal Affairs. As at the time of the writing of this letter, a criminal investigation into these events had not been opened.

The IBA is gravely concerned that this attack was not a common assault and is connected to Mr. Markelov’s activities as a lawyer. The fact that case files were stolen, whilst valuables were left behind would seem to support this conclusion. In this respect, we would like to respectfully remind you, Your Excellency, of your international legal obligations which recognise the fundamental role that lawyers play in upholding the rule of law and human rights and that provide safeguards for the exercise of the legal profession. In particular, Principles 16, 17 of the Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which state:

16. Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.

17. Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.

The IBA respectfully urges Your Excellency, to investigate Mr. Markelov’s situation and to take steps to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice. We also urge you to consider, if Mr. Markelov consents, providing him with appropriate protection to enable him to carry out his professional duties without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

Respectfully Yours
Ambassador Emilio Cordenas
President of the International Bar Association
Cc IBA 194 Member Organisations



Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Hina Jilani (United Nations)


(abstract from the full report)


446. On 4 May 2004, the Special Representative, together with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, the Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers and the Special Rapporteur on the question of torture, sent an urgent appeal concerning the situation of Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer who has worked on behalf of victims of alleged human rights violations in

Chechnya. Markelov is currently representing the family of Zelimkhan Murdalov, a Chechnyan student who reportedly disappeared in January 2001 following his arrest by Russian Special

Police Detachment (OMON) forces in Grozny, in the court case opened against Sergei Lapin, a member of OMON, in connection with this disappearance. According to the information received, on 16 April 2004 Stanislav Markelov was travelling home on the Moscow metro when he was reportedly attacked by five men, dressed in civilian clothing who reportedly surrounded him and shouted: “You got what you’re asking for. No more speeches from you in court”. They allegedly hit him on the head with a heavy object causing him to lose consciousness. He reportedly regained consciousness a few hours later and discovered that his lawyer’s licence card, his passport and his entry card for the state Duma as well as various documents related to his cases – including those related to the trial of Sergi Lapin -- had been stolen. According to the information received, Stanislav Markelov was taken to City Hospital No. 68 where he was diagnosed as suffering from concussion. On 19 April he reportedly presented a medical certificate of his injuries to the Subway Security Section of Moscow Department of Internal Affairs No. 8 but the police officer on duty reportedly claimed that the certificate was fake and stated that he could only file a lost property complaint. On 21 April he also reportedly filed a complaint about the attack with the Moscow City Department of Internal Affairs. It is reported that a criminal investigation has not yet been opened. Stanislav Markelov also represented the family of a victim who disappeared and was allegedly tortured to death by a member of the Russian special police force, OMON, in Grozny. Markelov also represents a journalist who has allegedly received death threats for publishing an article in relation to the same torture case. A criminal investigation into the attacks against Stanislav Markelov has reportedly not been opened yet. The special rapporteurs express concern that Stanislav Markelov has been targeted for his human rights activities and, in particular, his work to defend victims of human rights violations in Chechnya.


Source: UNITED NATIONS, Economic and Social Council, Sixty-first session, Agenda item 17 (b) of the provisional agenda


Publication Date: 25-APR-04

According to MosNews, the attorney who defended the family of Chechen girl murdered by a Russian colonel was beaten and robbed in a Moscow subway. The lawyer Stanislav Markelov wrote an open letter to the city's interior directorate and prosecutor of the Moscow subway where he related the details
of the incident. He wrote that about five young men in dark jackets "blocked the place where I was sitting" and hit him on the head, saying that he "deserved" it. His documents and mobile phones were also missing. Later, he was hospitalized. According to the hospital physicians he had suffered concussion. At the end of 2003, after various medical checks, the colonel was found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to 10 years in a high security prison colony.


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