Pilipenko’s case: pacifists out

Economist Vladislav Inozemtsev writes about the change in the leadership of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers

“At the end of last week ... at a meeting of the Council of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers of Russia, its long-term president, Yuri Pilipenko, who has held this post since 2015, was not re-elected for another term. (It is noteworthy that on the morning of December 15, he, being a president of the Chamber, sent a letter to the head of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe, James MacGuill, expressing concern about the situation with the protection of the legal rights of Russians in European countries).”

Inozemtsev notes that Pilipenko is a “highly experienced lawyer” who, as it would seem, “talentedly led a professional organization of lawyers, skillfully resolving any sensitive issues in the interaction between the legal community and the authorities, and at the same time demonstrating a willingness to independently make important decisions for the legal workers without waiting for the initiatives of the Ministry of Justice and the Kremlin.”

“Back in April 2019, the leadership of the Federal Chamber of Lawyers of Russia passed a resolution at the All-Russian Congress of Lawyers allowing disciplinary prosecution of lawyers “for opposing representatives of the governing bodies of lawyer self-government”. In 2021, the Chamber initiated changes to the Code of Professional Ethics of Lawyers, and in the summer of this year did not oppose anything against the liquidation after the suit of the prosecutor's office of the Trade Union of Lawyers of Russia, which had existed since 1999. In his recent congratulations on the occasion of the anniversary of the Ministry of Justice, Pilipenko rejoiced, perhaps not without irony, that the ministry had finally "gathered a real team of professionals" who "relate to the task assigned not only with responsibility, but also with love." All this happened against the background of dozens of resonant cases related to the deprivation of many principled defenders of the status of a lawyer and the persecution of lawyers of persons under investigation for political reasons (for example, the initiation of criminal cases against two lawyers who defended Safronov, who was arrested in 2020, is an unprecedented case even for Russia).

According to Inozemtsev, loyalty of this kind is no longer a sufficient condition for maintaining his post - “especially if you do not support the “special operation” in Ukraine from the first day (and Pilipenko was among those who, along with respected Russian lawyers G. Reznik , V. Klyuvgant, E. Avakyan, K. Dobrynin put his signature under the pacifist appeal).

“In this story, I note, there is a point from which our liberal public should learn a lesson: its long struggle with the Chamber as a “servile organization” now seems erroneous - primarily because it interfered with the consolidation of those forces that in many cases sought to defend the independence of the legal profession and the possibility of self-organization of the lawyer community in the country (which was obviously unsuccessful),” Inozemtsev said.

Its typical and attracts attention, that even today, in the era of mobilization, the Russian legal profession, represented by the Chamber, has not lost working contacts with European colleagues and is in official correspondence with them. At the same time, Pilipenko solves both specific problems hidden behind the forced gaps in the letter to Europe, and general issues related to the legal protection of Russians abroad. Including those who evade mobilization to participate in a special military operation. All this cannot but cause irritation, both among those who are “pro” and those who are “contra”, both anybody like as Feigin (recognized in Russia as a media-foreign agent) and anybody like as Kots. But it is possible that such a position of lawyers, demonstrating a commitment to “normality”, which is practically absent today on both sides of the contact line, will be recognized as the most adequate after some time. Or it will not, but the latter is practically excluded, because all military operations end with negotiations and peace. In the meantime, pacifists out!

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Author`s name Andrey Mihayloff
Editor Dmitry Sudakov