28 December 2023
by Anna Stavitskaya, lawyer, MHG Prize laureate
Yesterday something terrible happened – my client Rauf Arashukov was sentenced by the court to life in prison! I can’t convey what is in the hearts of us lawyers! We fought – I’m not afraid of being emotional about this – like lions! And I think that we proved Rauf’s innocence! But … the result is a depressing guilty verdict by the jury and a life sentence! True, we heard that the jury was pressured, which led to such a sad result. Time will tell!
When I first started working on Rauf Arashukov’s case, everyone was asking me why I was doing this! It was like ‘let justice have its way with him, he’s not worthy of protection!’ You should only defend the right people, let the senator go to jail! And I patiently explained that justice cannot be apportioned along the lines of who one likes and does not like. Justice is justice for the very reason that it is the same for everyone, whether for an ordinary Ivan Ivanovich, an oppositionist, an oligarch, and even for a government official! Equal in the sense that the laws of the Russian Federation and human rights must be observed, the principles of legal proceedings for all, including adversariality and equality of the parties, must be observed. And if there is no evidence of guilt, then the person must be acquitted, even if you don’t like it! And only under these circumstances is it possible to develop the rule of law! And everything that we are experiencing is the result of a lack of this same justice! Many are surprised: ‘how is what is happening in the courts possible?! So it is possible that this has existed for a long time, and did not start with the Khodorkovsky case, as is commonly believed!’ Lawyers and human rights activists shouted to the point of damaging their throats, but no one really listened to us, and now all of this has wreaked havoc on the lives of many people! And I will not tire of repeating that you cannot only desire justice for people you like, otherwise things turn out the way they are now!
Since I am sure of Rauf’s innocence – the evidence supports this – I’ll will continue to fight for him! And by the way, having personally known Rauf, I can say that he has turned out to be a very strong-willed person, very positive and charming!
Translated by Tyler Langendorfer