5 September 2020
Hi. It’s Team 29 lawyer Arina Nachinova here.
I rarely write for Team 29 newsletters (although I do sometimes pop up in our videos). It’s the Russian courts I tend to inhabit, rather than the media sphere. But today, I’ll have your attention and will talk about what’s been on the mind of this lawyer-cum-human rights defender lately.
If I’m honest, it’s been a tough week (perhaps you’ve found the same). In difficult weeks like this, bad news that pours like a waterfall out of Telegram channels, newsfeeds, and the people around you, can create a feeling of despair. You’ve got Karina Tsurkan, David Frenkel, and Coronavirus, and then there’s Belarus, Aleksei Navalny, and yet more Coronavirus.
In this whole ‘mad world’ (as once sung by Roland Orzabal), I felt the need to close down my social media and think about something that would give me the strength to avoid professional burn-out and spur me on to keep working.
I thought about my colleagues, who for many years have been holding on to their sense of humour and finding in themselves the strength to work despite obvious interference by the authorities. A whole year (!) was spent on trying to have the criminal case against Viktor Kudryavtsev suspended, but we managed it! Success!
I thought about the worried people thanks to whom we managed to collect 791,000 roubles for Ivan Safronov. And about the fact that journalists came together to support their colleague, which gives you such a warm feeling of invisible support and security. You see, the scariest thing when you’re faced with injustice is being alone.
I thought about the surprisingly sober rulings by Magadan City Court, so rarely encountered these days, to return the file in the ‘fakes’ case against Tatyana Brais to Roskomnadzor. Witnessing such actions on the part of our judicial system is like music to the ears of a human rights lawyer. Moscow’s Tagansky district court, incidentally, would also be well advised not to ‘lap up’ everything that is fed to it by Roskomnadzor.
I thought about my clients, who can often take a much more optimistic view on a situation than I do and are willing to argue – to the bitter end – that the law also applies to the authorities. These are the normal people and activists, historians and researchers, who we all worry about. I think about the cases we go over in our minds in the sleepless nights before trial. The people we’re prepared to fly to other regions for, people who have faith in us and believe, as we do, that justice can still be had.
I thought about all this and decided that I hadn’t set out to look for that justice in vain, and that my work has led to results. And if it isn’t in vain, then we have to fight, to seek, to find, and not give up.
Translated by Lindsay Munford