A court in Moscow forbade the client to communicate with a lawyer. Activist on trial for rally against park development as part of renovation

A Moscow court forbade activist Olga Kuzmina, who is on trial for an action in defense of the square, to communicate with a lawyer. On August 9, Olga Kuzmina's criminal case was submitted to the Babushkinsky District Court. An hour later, the judge began a preliminary hearing. The activist's lawyer, Yekaterina Tertukhina, was notified of this already during the meeting. The lawyer herself told The Insider about this.

The judge called the defense lawyer and warned that she would be forced to take action and issue a private ruling for “truancy”. In the absence of the defense, the judge extended Kuzmina's house arrest and forbade communication with a lawyer. Now Tertukhina must build a strategy to protect the activist without having the right to talk to her.

“On August 8, we finished reviewing the case and on August 9 at 10:30 a call is heard from the judge asking where I am, because she has already scheduled a court session, which she will hold with or without me, and without me she will invite appointed lawyer. Between the signing of the protocol of familiarization with the case and the court session usually takes from two weeks to a month. By law, I must be notified of the results of the court hearing no later than five days, and in some cases three days. Then I found out that at the same meeting, communication with my client was limited and, in fact, at the moment, work on this case is paralyzed.

Tertukhina noted that she had appealed the decision to ban her client from communicating with her in the Moscow City Court, but the date of the meeting had not yet been set. It may take 2-3 weeks before that. All this time, the lawyer needs to build a defense strategy, but they will not be able to communicate so that the activist is not transferred to a pre-trial detention center. At the same time, the next hearing in the Kuzmina case will take place tomorrow.

“We will appeal the decision. It is impossible to carry out defense in such conditions, because the prosecutor's office said that if Olga violates the house arrest regime and the rules that were established by the court, they will petition for her transfer to a pre-trial detention center. In order not to set up my client and then prove to everyone that it was the right to protection guaranteed by the Constitution, we decided not to communicate and not discuss the case.”

In addition, the lawyer noted that on August 22, there were changes in the case card, and another judge is already listed there.

“There was a change of judges and I don’t know what it is connected with. There is such a principle of legal proceedings, which is called the irremovability of judges,” says Tertukhina.

In the summer of 2021, activist Olga Kuzmina held a performance in defense of the square. She climbed a tree and tied herself to the trunk. In her hands was a broken crossbow, which she pointed at her chest. Thus, she protested against the construction of the square as part of the renovation. The activist was detained by the police, the Babushkinsky District Court arrested the woman for six days under the article on failure to comply with the requirements of the authorities (part 1 of article 19.3 of the Code of Administrative Offenses). Later, a criminal case was opened against Kuzmina for hooliganism (part 2 of article 213 of the Criminal Code). The court placed her under house arrest and forcibly sent her to a psychiatric hospital for an examination. In conclusion, the doctors stated that the woman may not have been aware of "the actual nature of her actions." In parallel, Kuzmina was fined under the article on damage to green spaces (part 1 of article 4.18 of the Administrative Code of Moscow) - due to several broken branches.

Photo: Alec Sander / SOTA

Lawyer Kaloy Akhilgov, in an interview with The Insider, noted that the decision of the judge to restrict the lawyer in the performance of his duties is not only lawlessness, but also raises the question of the qualifications of the judge.

“Usually, when the court chooses the restriction of certain actions as a preventive measure, it points to the prohibition to communicate with strangers other than relatives and a lawyer. In this case, the court forbade not only to communicate with strangers, but also with the client. In fact, the lawyer is limited in the performance of his duties prescribed by law. If a lawyer does not communicate with the client, then he cannot fully fulfill his obligations in order to prepare a position, prepare for interrogation, and so on. In fact, this is a restriction associated with the violation of constitutional rights, both of the lawyer and the defendant. Here the question arises not even that this is lawlessness or a scandalous decision, the question here is whether the judge corresponds to his qualifications. The judge must understand that he has no right to limit the communication of a lawyer with his client, even if he is a judge and he really wants this. No one can limit the communication of a lawyer with a client, because this right is provided for by the Constitution of the Russian Federation. This is the right to protection, and it is being violated,” Akhilgov notes.

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