Valery Borshchev on the dangers of broadening the legal interpretation of treason against the state

2 March 2021

Pictured is co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group Valery Borshchev

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source: Национальная служба новостей]  

Sergei Mironov, leader of the ‘A Just Russia – For Truth’ party has pledged to equate crimes of corruption with treason against the state.

While commenting about Mironov’s initiative live on the National News Service, Valery Borshchev, the co-chair of the Moscow Helsinki Group, expressed the view that charges of treason against the state are often used as a convenient “label” to paper over the details of the offence itself.

“The charges of treason against the state we see nowadays are highly implausible. In my mind, and in the minds of others, there is no evidence for treason in these cases. These charges are being used as a label, and yet the charges result in lengthy sentences. You cannot give use this charge, and especially not in corruption cases, when both those who are corrupt and those who are not corrupt often end up facing these charges. Some offence will be conjured up, and the person is charged with corruption. We really need to be so careful here; there have been examples where corruption charges have simply been fabricated against someone, so what Mironov is suggesting is really simply impermissible. His plan will lead to arbitrary and unjustifiable jaiings and prosecutions,” Borshchev said.

Borshchev asserted that corruption cannot be successfully rooted out with harsh punishments. The human rights defender concluded: “This phenomenon is a product of a system that allows corrupt people to act with impunity. This doesn’t apply to everyone, but only to those who are allowed to act this way. Others see them, want to copy them, and then they end up getting caught. Something similar happens to those who were in favour with those in power, but then lost their positions and the goodwill of the powerful. Then they get charged with corruption. If we want to deal with corruption seriously, we need to change the system as a whole in a substantial way.”

Translated by Fergus Wright

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