Daily Archives: May 10, 2007

Essel on Russian "I"T

Windows on Russia

by David Essel

The overwhelming share of software running on computers in Russia is pirated. I have seen estimates as high as 90% and, from what I’ve seen, find it easy enough to believe. The Russian authorities do not do anything much about this. However, in November last year, a village headmaster, Alexander Ponosov, was suddenly advised that he would be prosecuted for having 12 computers in his school running unlicensed copies of Windows.

Reuters has reported that after multiple hearings he has been found guilty and fined what for him is a large sum of money amounting to 2 weeks salary. In the same article Reuters also says that Russian state television has been portraying this as a David-and-Goliath battle. Loads of people, including some big names, have additionally been tapped for comments.

On 5 February, ex-President Gorbachev and Russian MP Alexander Lebedev addressed an open letter to Bill Gates in which they said that “the guilt of the teacher is very doubtful”, that “Ponosov has devoted his life to educating children, something for which he has received very modest rewards”, and that “he is now threatened with imprisonment in a Siberian labour camp.”

Putin has joined in, too. In a radio interview on 1 February, he said in reply to question: “It’s always easy to catch and hold someone but rather harder to get to the bottom of a matter. If the law needs changing or happens to be, as it seems to me, far from well-worded, we shall think about this. But to arrest someone who bought some computer from somewhere and threaten him with prison is absolute nonsense.”

Microsoft, an organisation which does not usually get any sympathy from me since I have never used anything other than a Mac, is quoted by Reuters as saying: “Mr. Ponosov’s case was initiated by Russian authorities under Russian law. Microsoft neither initiated nor has any plans to bring any action against Mr. Ponosov.” You can’t say fairer than that and in any event Microsoft has nothing to do with any of this.

So how come a lowly schoolteacher, ex-Presidents and ruling ones, and many more people besides are cropping up in this story? Well, because the whole thing is a piece of Russian propaganda, pursuing aims that have very little – say nothing whatsoever – to do with the activities of a village schoolteacher in rural Russia.

What it is actually all about is that Russia is applying to join the World Trade Organisation and is now able to point to how its is taking action against software piracy, one of the problems raised in the matter of whether it should be allowed to join. Will anyone have the courage to say that the action in question – persecuting Ponosov – is simply taking the p*ss given the scale of the problem in Russia? In fact, in a favourite move of KGB-style disinformation activities, the action is designed to kill two birds with one stone: to gain a propaganda advantage by making it look like the big horrid Western world is spoiling the life of the poor Russians, up to and including tiny pawns such as village schoolteachers, while at the same time also enabling Russia to cast a veil over the issue of the immense amount of money being made in Russia from the sale of pirated software.

This software is for sale all over the place in packaged CDs with the “crack” number, current price $6 or so per CD. This is big business: cost of content $0, cost of media and duplication – $1, profit 500%, volume of sales – hundreds of thousands. There are millionaires in this business. The same applies on an even larger scale to DVDs. We are talking protection of the kleptocracy here and nothing else. Russia has no intention of standing by any obligations that become incumbent on it if allowed into the WTO.

Another interesting thing to note is the irrationality of Russian law, or at least of its application. Why is the teacher being prosecuted, apart from having been selected for being a suitable Russian little man to be crushed by a faceless Western monolith? It’s so easy to believe that our critical minds switch off: however, he is in fact being crushed by Russian law as a result of decisions taken inside Russia, for heaven’s sake!

As to actual responsibility, with his salary, he can probably only just about feed his family. It’s hardly likely that Ponosov owns the computers in question. The owner of the computers must surely be the Ministry of Education. Ultimate responsibility for what is loaded on those computers must rest with the Ministry. Does it have a published policy that no pirated software is to be used in Russia’s educational institutions? Does it carry out audits of all its computers? Would it like to contract for an independent third party to audit the computers in its Moscow headquarters? I very much doubt it. But that’s what organisations with serious intent actually do.

As an aside, according to Russian Wikipedia, the public prosecution department of the district where Ponosov was charged installed licensed software in its computers only in 2006 and inspected Ponosov’s school on 25 May 2006. So what were its computers running prior to that? They should have prosecuted themselves.

I feel sorriest, after Ponosov, for poor old Gorby. Ever the innocent, it was easy to guess that he would fall for the “little Russian against the big bad Western company” line and let himself be roped in to write a letter to Bill Gates in defence of the schoolteacher. Or was this perhaps another “two birds with one stone” disinformation coup: get the propaganda noise of a letter from a big name and make a fool of an old enemy at the same time?

Russia Foments Genocide in Darfur

Reader Jeremy Putley tips La Russophobe to the following item from the Channel News Asia wire, indicating that, via Amnesty International, the new axis of evil China & Russia are teaming up to foment genocide in Darfur:

The human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday said it suspected China and Russia of supplying arms to Sudan which were being used in war-torn Darfur in violation of a United Nations embargo. Amnesty released a copy of a report which it said showed that “arms supplied to Sudan from China and Russia … have been used for violations of the Security Council’s own mandatory arms embargo.” Both China and Russia are permanent members of the UN Security Council along with Britain, France and the United States.

Amnesty said Sudan imported 24 million dollars (18 million euros) worth of arms and ammunition, nearly 57 million dollars worth of parts and aircraft equipment and two million dollars worth of parts of helicopters and aeroplanes from China. It cited data from Sudan for 2005, the last available trade figures. It said the Chinese company AviChina Industry and Technology “recently delivered six K-8 military training/attack aircraft to the Sudanese Air Force and a further six will follow soon”, citing an unnamed military magazine. “The K-8S is widely used as a basic training jet for fighter pilots. Some of the Sudanese Air Force fighter pilots will eventually graduate onto the NAMC Q-5 ‘Fantan’ after undergoing basic training on the K-8S,” it said. “Amnesty International is concerned that the Sudan Air Force has transferred these (Fantan) jet bombers to Darfur without authority from the UN Sanctions Committee,” the report said, citing photograph and other evidence it provided. It said Sudan “is highly likely to use these newly acquired jets, as it has other aircraft, and the acquisition of expertise to fly the jets supplied from China, for indiscriminate attacks in Darfur.” Such attacks would be in violation of the UN arms embargo and international humanitarian law, it added.

It added that in 2005, the Russian Federation exported to Sudan 21 million dollars worth of aircraft and associated equipment including spare parts and 13.7 million dollars of helicopters. “The use of various types of military helicopters, particularly the Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunships acquired by the Sudan Air Force, to launch attacks in Darfur in which civilians are subjected to indiscriminate fire is of particular concern to Amnesty International,” it said. Some 200,000 people have died in the four-year civil war in Darfur and two million more fled their homes, according to UN figures, although some sources put the toll much higher.

IHF Condemns Kremlin Harrassment of Kasparov’s Attorney

IHF Appeals to Russian Authorities to End Harassment against Human Rights Lawyer Karinna Moskalenko and Her Organization

Vienna, 9 May 2007. With a disbarment process against prominent Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko under way, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) today appealed to relevant Russian authorities to end this and other forms of ongoing harassment targeting her and her organization and to ensure that they can carry out their work without hindrance.

“The initiative by the office of the Russian Prosecutor General to deprive Ms. Moskalenko of her professional status and prevent her from practicing law is an apparent attempt at discrediting and punishing her for her work on politically inconvenient cases and at establishing an example for other lawyers in this field,” said Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director. He continued: “Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have done nothing wrong. They have, in fact, done a service to Russian society by assisting citizens to seek and obtain remedy for human rights violations and deserve recognition, not persecution.”

Ms. Moskalenko is the founder of the International Protection Center (IPC), a Moscow-based NGO that has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations for more than ten years and has brought numerous cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). More than 20 cases in which she and her colleagues have represented victims of abuse before the ECtHR have resulted in rulings against Russia, while some other 20 cases have been declared admissible and about 100 cases are currently pending with the court. She is also a Commissioner of the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ).(1) In 2006 Ms. Moskalenko received the IHF Recognition Award for her contributions to the protection of human rights.(2)

Many of the cases Ms. Moskalenko works on are of a politically sensitive character. Among the clients of her organization are victims and family members of victims of torture, “disappearances” and other abuses related to the conflict in Chechnya as well as the of the October 2002 hostage taking at the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and the subsequent rescue operation. Most recently, she has assisted individuals facing legal charges as a result of their participation in opposition rallies and counseled opposition leader Garry Kasparov, who was questioned on suspicion of extremist activity following a rally held in Moscow on 14 April 2007.(3)

Ms. Moskalenko also serves as legal counsel of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chair of the Yukos oil company who was sentenced to nine years in prison on tax evasion and related charges in a 2005 legal process widely criticized for being politically motivated and conducted in violation of international fair trial standards. She represents Mr. Khodorkovsky at the international level and has helped him file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

On 18 April 2007, Ms. Moskalenko was informed that the office of the Russian Prosecutor General is requesting her disbarment on grounds that she has allegedly acted in violation of professional ethics, failed to provide adequate assistance to her client and obstructed the investigation into the case of Mr. Khodorkovsky. This request was supported by the Russian Registration Service. An investigation is currently under way and the case is due to be heard by a disciplinary committee of the Moscow City Bar, which consists of both lawyers and outside members, by late May – early June 2007. The decision of this body can be appealed to court.

The effort to disbar Ms. Moskalenko is only the latest incident in a series of harassment targeting her and her organization in the past two years. Following a more than six-month long tax audit, the IPC received an order in July 2006 to pay profit tax on all projects implemented in 2002-2004, as well as late payment interests and a fine, totaling more than EUR 130,000. The tax authorities claimed that the IPC had unlawfully taken advantage of tax exemption, but in doing so they disregarded provisions of Russian tax legislation which state that grants such as those received by the center are not subject to profit tax.(4) This case is still ongoing, and the IPC has subsequently been subject to other forms of irregular administrative inspections. Already in October 2005 Ms. Moskalenko was threatened by disbarment in connection with her representation of Mr. Khodorkovsky, and in February 2007 she and four other defense lawyers of Khodorkovsky were detained at Domodedovo airport in Moscow.(5)

The harassment faced by Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have seriously impeded their work by forcing them to devote excessive resources to complying with various investigation requirements, tarnished their credibility in the public eye and thrust them into constant uncertainty about the future at a time when there is a growing demand for their services.

The IHF calls on relevant Russian authorities to put an end to all acts of pressure against Ms. Moskalenko and her organization and to ensure that she and her colleagues can carry out their important work, which is aimed at assisting the Russian government to comply with its international human rights obligations, without intimidation, obstruction or undue interference.

IHF Condemns Kremlin Harrassment of Kasparov’s Attorney

IHF Appeals to Russian Authorities to End Harassment against Human Rights Lawyer Karinna Moskalenko and Her Organization

Vienna, 9 May 2007. With a disbarment process against prominent Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko under way, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) today appealed to relevant Russian authorities to end this and other forms of ongoing harassment targeting her and her organization and to ensure that they can carry out their work without hindrance.

“The initiative by the office of the Russian Prosecutor General to deprive Ms. Moskalenko of her professional status and prevent her from practicing law is an apparent attempt at discrediting and punishing her for her work on politically inconvenient cases and at establishing an example for other lawyers in this field,” said Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director. He continued: “Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have done nothing wrong. They have, in fact, done a service to Russian society by assisting citizens to seek and obtain remedy for human rights violations and deserve recognition, not persecution.”

Ms. Moskalenko is the founder of the International Protection Center (IPC), a Moscow-based NGO that has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations for more than ten years and has brought numerous cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). More than 20 cases in which she and her colleagues have represented victims of abuse before the ECtHR have resulted in rulings against Russia, while some other 20 cases have been declared admissible and about 100 cases are currently pending with the court. She is also a Commissioner of the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ).(1) In 2006 Ms. Moskalenko received the IHF Recognition Award for her contributions to the protection of human rights.(2)

Many of the cases Ms. Moskalenko works on are of a politically sensitive character. Among the clients of her organization are victims and family members of victims of torture, “disappearances” and other abuses related to the conflict in Chechnya as well as the of the October 2002 hostage taking at the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and the subsequent rescue operation. Most recently, she has assisted individuals facing legal charges as a result of their participation in opposition rallies and counseled opposition leader Garry Kasparov, who was questioned on suspicion of extremist activity following a rally held in Moscow on 14 April 2007.(3)

Ms. Moskalenko also serves as legal counsel of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chair of the Yukos oil company who was sentenced to nine years in prison on tax evasion and related charges in a 2005 legal process widely criticized for being politically motivated and conducted in violation of international fair trial standards. She represents Mr. Khodorkovsky at the international level and has helped him file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

On 18 April 2007, Ms. Moskalenko was informed that the office of the Russian Prosecutor General is requesting her disbarment on grounds that she has allegedly acted in violation of professional ethics, failed to provide adequate assistance to her client and obstructed the investigation into the case of Mr. Khodorkovsky. This request was supported by the Russian Registration Service. An investigation is currently under way and the case is due to be heard by a disciplinary committee of the Moscow City Bar, which consists of both lawyers and outside members, by late May – early June 2007. The decision of this body can be appealed to court.

The effort to disbar Ms. Moskalenko is only the latest incident in a series of harassment targeting her and her organization in the past two years. Following a more than six-month long tax audit, the IPC received an order in July 2006 to pay profit tax on all projects implemented in 2002-2004, as well as late payment interests and a fine, totaling more than EUR 130,000. The tax authorities claimed that the IPC had unlawfully taken advantage of tax exemption, but in doing so they disregarded provisions of Russian tax legislation which state that grants such as those received by the center are not subject to profit tax.(4) This case is still ongoing, and the IPC has subsequently been subject to other forms of irregular administrative inspections. Already in October 2005 Ms. Moskalenko was threatened by disbarment in connection with her representation of Mr. Khodorkovsky, and in February 2007 she and four other defense lawyers of Khodorkovsky were detained at Domodedovo airport in Moscow.(5)

The harassment faced by Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have seriously impeded their work by forcing them to devote excessive resources to complying with various investigation requirements, tarnished their credibility in the public eye and thrust them into constant uncertainty about the future at a time when there is a growing demand for their services.

The IHF calls on relevant Russian authorities to put an end to all acts of pressure against Ms. Moskalenko and her organization and to ensure that she and her colleagues can carry out their important work, which is aimed at assisting the Russian government to comply with its international human rights obligations, without intimidation, obstruction or undue interference.

IHF Condemns Kremlin Harrassment of Kasparov’s Attorney

IHF Appeals to Russian Authorities to End Harassment against Human Rights Lawyer Karinna Moskalenko and Her Organization

Vienna, 9 May 2007. With a disbarment process against prominent Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko under way, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) today appealed to relevant Russian authorities to end this and other forms of ongoing harassment targeting her and her organization and to ensure that they can carry out their work without hindrance.

“The initiative by the office of the Russian Prosecutor General to deprive Ms. Moskalenko of her professional status and prevent her from practicing law is an apparent attempt at discrediting and punishing her for her work on politically inconvenient cases and at establishing an example for other lawyers in this field,” said Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director. He continued: “Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have done nothing wrong. They have, in fact, done a service to Russian society by assisting citizens to seek and obtain remedy for human rights violations and deserve recognition, not persecution.”

Ms. Moskalenko is the founder of the International Protection Center (IPC), a Moscow-based NGO that has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations for more than ten years and has brought numerous cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). More than 20 cases in which she and her colleagues have represented victims of abuse before the ECtHR have resulted in rulings against Russia, while some other 20 cases have been declared admissible and about 100 cases are currently pending with the court. She is also a Commissioner of the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ).(1) In 2006 Ms. Moskalenko received the IHF Recognition Award for her contributions to the protection of human rights.(2)

Many of the cases Ms. Moskalenko works on are of a politically sensitive character. Among the clients of her organization are victims and family members of victims of torture, “disappearances” and other abuses related to the conflict in Chechnya as well as the of the October 2002 hostage taking at the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and the subsequent rescue operation. Most recently, she has assisted individuals facing legal charges as a result of their participation in opposition rallies and counseled opposition leader Garry Kasparov, who was questioned on suspicion of extremist activity following a rally held in Moscow on 14 April 2007.(3)

Ms. Moskalenko also serves as legal counsel of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chair of the Yukos oil company who was sentenced to nine years in prison on tax evasion and related charges in a 2005 legal process widely criticized for being politically motivated and conducted in violation of international fair trial standards. She represents Mr. Khodorkovsky at the international level and has helped him file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

On 18 April 2007, Ms. Moskalenko was informed that the office of the Russian Prosecutor General is requesting her disbarment on grounds that she has allegedly acted in violation of professional ethics, failed to provide adequate assistance to her client and obstructed the investigation into the case of Mr. Khodorkovsky. This request was supported by the Russian Registration Service. An investigation is currently under way and the case is due to be heard by a disciplinary committee of the Moscow City Bar, which consists of both lawyers and outside members, by late May – early June 2007. The decision of this body can be appealed to court.

The effort to disbar Ms. Moskalenko is only the latest incident in a series of harassment targeting her and her organization in the past two years. Following a more than six-month long tax audit, the IPC received an order in July 2006 to pay profit tax on all projects implemented in 2002-2004, as well as late payment interests and a fine, totaling more than EUR 130,000. The tax authorities claimed that the IPC had unlawfully taken advantage of tax exemption, but in doing so they disregarded provisions of Russian tax legislation which state that grants such as those received by the center are not subject to profit tax.(4) This case is still ongoing, and the IPC has subsequently been subject to other forms of irregular administrative inspections. Already in October 2005 Ms. Moskalenko was threatened by disbarment in connection with her representation of Mr. Khodorkovsky, and in February 2007 she and four other defense lawyers of Khodorkovsky were detained at Domodedovo airport in Moscow.(5)

The harassment faced by Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have seriously impeded their work by forcing them to devote excessive resources to complying with various investigation requirements, tarnished their credibility in the public eye and thrust them into constant uncertainty about the future at a time when there is a growing demand for their services.

The IHF calls on relevant Russian authorities to put an end to all acts of pressure against Ms. Moskalenko and her organization and to ensure that she and her colleagues can carry out their important work, which is aimed at assisting the Russian government to comply with its international human rights obligations, without intimidation, obstruction or undue interference.

IHF Condemns Kremlin Harrassment of Kasparov’s Attorney

IHF Appeals to Russian Authorities to End Harassment against Human Rights Lawyer Karinna Moskalenko and Her Organization

Vienna, 9 May 2007. With a disbarment process against prominent Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko under way, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) today appealed to relevant Russian authorities to end this and other forms of ongoing harassment targeting her and her organization and to ensure that they can carry out their work without hindrance.

“The initiative by the office of the Russian Prosecutor General to deprive Ms. Moskalenko of her professional status and prevent her from practicing law is an apparent attempt at discrediting and punishing her for her work on politically inconvenient cases and at establishing an example for other lawyers in this field,” said Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director. He continued: “Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have done nothing wrong. They have, in fact, done a service to Russian society by assisting citizens to seek and obtain remedy for human rights violations and deserve recognition, not persecution.”

Ms. Moskalenko is the founder of the International Protection Center (IPC), a Moscow-based NGO that has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations for more than ten years and has brought numerous cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). More than 20 cases in which she and her colleagues have represented victims of abuse before the ECtHR have resulted in rulings against Russia, while some other 20 cases have been declared admissible and about 100 cases are currently pending with the court. She is also a Commissioner of the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ).(1) In 2006 Ms. Moskalenko received the IHF Recognition Award for her contributions to the protection of human rights.(2)

Many of the cases Ms. Moskalenko works on are of a politically sensitive character. Among the clients of her organization are victims and family members of victims of torture, “disappearances” and other abuses related to the conflict in Chechnya as well as the of the October 2002 hostage taking at the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and the subsequent rescue operation. Most recently, she has assisted individuals facing legal charges as a result of their participation in opposition rallies and counseled opposition leader Garry Kasparov, who was questioned on suspicion of extremist activity following a rally held in Moscow on 14 April 2007.(3)

Ms. Moskalenko also serves as legal counsel of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chair of the Yukos oil company who was sentenced to nine years in prison on tax evasion and related charges in a 2005 legal process widely criticized for being politically motivated and conducted in violation of international fair trial standards. She represents Mr. Khodorkovsky at the international level and has helped him file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

On 18 April 2007, Ms. Moskalenko was informed that the office of the Russian Prosecutor General is requesting her disbarment on grounds that she has allegedly acted in violation of professional ethics, failed to provide adequate assistance to her client and obstructed the investigation into the case of Mr. Khodorkovsky. This request was supported by the Russian Registration Service. An investigation is currently under way and the case is due to be heard by a disciplinary committee of the Moscow City Bar, which consists of both lawyers and outside members, by late May – early June 2007. The decision of this body can be appealed to court.

The effort to disbar Ms. Moskalenko is only the latest incident in a series of harassment targeting her and her organization in the past two years. Following a more than six-month long tax audit, the IPC received an order in July 2006 to pay profit tax on all projects implemented in 2002-2004, as well as late payment interests and a fine, totaling more than EUR 130,000. The tax authorities claimed that the IPC had unlawfully taken advantage of tax exemption, but in doing so they disregarded provisions of Russian tax legislation which state that grants such as those received by the center are not subject to profit tax.(4) This case is still ongoing, and the IPC has subsequently been subject to other forms of irregular administrative inspections. Already in October 2005 Ms. Moskalenko was threatened by disbarment in connection with her representation of Mr. Khodorkovsky, and in February 2007 she and four other defense lawyers of Khodorkovsky were detained at Domodedovo airport in Moscow.(5)

The harassment faced by Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have seriously impeded their work by forcing them to devote excessive resources to complying with various investigation requirements, tarnished their credibility in the public eye and thrust them into constant uncertainty about the future at a time when there is a growing demand for their services.

The IHF calls on relevant Russian authorities to put an end to all acts of pressure against Ms. Moskalenko and her organization and to ensure that she and her colleagues can carry out their important work, which is aimed at assisting the Russian government to comply with its international human rights obligations, without intimidation, obstruction or undue interference.

IHF Condemns Kremlin Harrassment of Kasparov’s Attorney

IHF Appeals to Russian Authorities to End Harassment against Human Rights Lawyer Karinna Moskalenko and Her Organization

Vienna, 9 May 2007. With a disbarment process against prominent Russian human rights lawyer Karinna Moskalenko under way, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) today appealed to relevant Russian authorities to end this and other forms of ongoing harassment targeting her and her organization and to ensure that they can carry out their work without hindrance.

“The initiative by the office of the Russian Prosecutor General to deprive Ms. Moskalenko of her professional status and prevent her from practicing law is an apparent attempt at discrediting and punishing her for her work on politically inconvenient cases and at establishing an example for other lawyers in this field,” said Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director. He continued: “Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have done nothing wrong. They have, in fact, done a service to Russian society by assisting citizens to seek and obtain remedy for human rights violations and deserve recognition, not persecution.”

Ms. Moskalenko is the founder of the International Protection Center (IPC), a Moscow-based NGO that has provided legal assistance to victims of human rights violations for more than ten years and has brought numerous cases to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). More than 20 cases in which she and her colleagues have represented victims of abuse before the ECtHR have resulted in rulings against Russia, while some other 20 cases have been declared admissible and about 100 cases are currently pending with the court. She is also a Commissioner of the International Commission for Jurists (ICJ).(1) In 2006 Ms. Moskalenko received the IHF Recognition Award for her contributions to the protection of human rights.(2)

Many of the cases Ms. Moskalenko works on are of a politically sensitive character. Among the clients of her organization are victims and family members of victims of torture, “disappearances” and other abuses related to the conflict in Chechnya as well as the of the October 2002 hostage taking at the Dubrovka theatre in Moscow and the subsequent rescue operation. Most recently, she has assisted individuals facing legal charges as a result of their participation in opposition rallies and counseled opposition leader Garry Kasparov, who was questioned on suspicion of extremist activity following a rally held in Moscow on 14 April 2007.(3)

Ms. Moskalenko also serves as legal counsel of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chair of the Yukos oil company who was sentenced to nine years in prison on tax evasion and related charges in a 2005 legal process widely criticized for being politically motivated and conducted in violation of international fair trial standards. She represents Mr. Khodorkovsky at the international level and has helped him file a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights.

On 18 April 2007, Ms. Moskalenko was informed that the office of the Russian Prosecutor General is requesting her disbarment on grounds that she has allegedly acted in violation of professional ethics, failed to provide adequate assistance to her client and obstructed the investigation into the case of Mr. Khodorkovsky. This request was supported by the Russian Registration Service. An investigation is currently under way and the case is due to be heard by a disciplinary committee of the Moscow City Bar, which consists of both lawyers and outside members, by late May – early June 2007. The decision of this body can be appealed to court.

The effort to disbar Ms. Moskalenko is only the latest incident in a series of harassment targeting her and her organization in the past two years. Following a more than six-month long tax audit, the IPC received an order in July 2006 to pay profit tax on all projects implemented in 2002-2004, as well as late payment interests and a fine, totaling more than EUR 130,000. The tax authorities claimed that the IPC had unlawfully taken advantage of tax exemption, but in doing so they disregarded provisions of Russian tax legislation which state that grants such as those received by the center are not subject to profit tax.(4) This case is still ongoing, and the IPC has subsequently been subject to other forms of irregular administrative inspections. Already in October 2005 Ms. Moskalenko was threatened by disbarment in connection with her representation of Mr. Khodorkovsky, and in February 2007 she and four other defense lawyers of Khodorkovsky were detained at Domodedovo airport in Moscow.(5)

The harassment faced by Ms. Moskalenko and her colleagues have seriously impeded their work by forcing them to devote excessive resources to complying with various investigation requirements, tarnished their credibility in the public eye and thrust them into constant uncertainty about the future at a time when there is a growing demand for their services.

The IHF calls on relevant Russian authorities to put an end to all acts of pressure against Ms. Moskalenko and her organization and to ensure that she and her colleagues can carry out their important work, which is aimed at assisting the Russian government to comply with its international human rights obligations, without intimidation, obstruction or undue interference.