Mary Page talks with Dr Anton Burkov, a native of Ekaterinburg where for many years he worked with the human rights NGO Sutyazhnik. In 2001 he received the FEMIDA award for contributions toward the creation of a democratic society and the development of state legal institutions. In 2019 Dr Burkov founded an online school, ECHR-Navigator, offering courses on how to bring cases to the European Court of Human Rights. As of today, the ECHR-Navigator, of which Dr Burkov remains CEO, offers 20 courses on bringing cases to the ECtHR, UN bodies, and national courts in three languages (Russian, Ukrainian, and English) with more than 200 alumni from four countries. Since 2021 ECHR-Navigator has collaborated with the University of Arizona online MA in Human Rights Practice, with courses offered by the ECHR-Navigator counted toward the MA at that university.
In cooperation with colleagues and volunteers (including at the Utrecht University, the University of Quebec in Montreal, the University of Arizona and global law firms), Dr Burkov has litigated many cases in Russian courts, including the Russia Supreme and Constitutional Courts, as well as the ECtHR. Recent cases include: Burkov v. Google (IT and privacy), Mikhaylova v. Russia (free legal aid), Sablina and others v. Russia (secret organ harvesting), Korolevs v. Russia (rights of prisoners and their families to conjugal meetings and artificial insemination), Tiunov v. Russia (modern slavery).
Dr Burkov has authored numerous publications, the latest are Todd Brower, Anton Burkov (eds.) Strategic Litigation of Public Interest Cases: US and Russian Best Practice, Moscow, 2020; a chapter ‘The Use of European Human Rights Law in Russian Courts’ in Lauri Mälksoo and Wolfgang Benedek (eds.), Russia and the European Court of Human Rights: The Strasbourg Effect (Cambridge University Press, 2018. Currently Dr Burkov is working on a LegalEd startup on DocXchange, aimed at democratisation of how legal documents are created, stored and shared among legal professionals, litigants and beyond.
This video was recorded on 18 May 2023.
- You left Russia several years ago to pursue your legal career. Can you tell us what you have been doing since your days in Ekaterinburg?
- How would you compare law schools in Russia, the UK and in the US?
- You have continued your own litigation. Could you outline some of the areas of law that most interest you and some of the cases you have taken up?
- In 2019 you started an online school ‘ECHRNavigator’ on litigating before the ECtHR as well as UN bodies and national courts. What inspired you to begin that project and how has it been going?
- How important has the European Court of Human Rights and its rulings been for Russia over the years?
- Russia has now severed links with the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights. Do you think this was inevitable? What impact do you think it will have on the legal system in Russia?
- How would you assess the state of the rule of law in Russia today? Does it exist at all?
- How do you assess the roles of the Russian Supreme Court and the Russian Constitutional Court? Their critics would say that they have failed to establish their independence from political power in Russia. Is there any sense in which these top courts have kept their independence?
- How do you see the future of the legal system in Russia over the next few years?