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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Winning Lawsuits the Old-Fashioned Way: Tossing Your Opponent's Lawyer in Prison

The Moscow Times reports:

Prosecutors are looking into whether lawyer Boris Kuznetsov, who has defended numerous high-profile clients, illegally disclosed state secrets by publicizing evidence of Federal Security Service wiretapping practices. The City Prosecutor's Office has asked Moscow's Tverskoi District Court to determine whether Kuznetsov disclosed state secrets by appealing to the Constitutional Court over an FSB wiretap of his client, former Federation Council Senator Levon Chakhmakhchyan, the lawyer said Monday. Kuznetsov, who has defended numerous clients that have run afoul of authorities, said he believed the inquiry was connected to his professional activities in general. His clients have included Educated Media Foundation head Manana Aslamazian, as well as arms control researcher Igor Sutyagin, a scientist sentenced by a jury to 15 years in prison in 2004 on high treason charges. Kuznetsov insisted that the bugging of Chakhmakhchyan's phone was a violation of the former senator's human rights and therefore could not be considered a state secret. "Besides, the law states that information can't be classified if it serves as evidence in a criminal case," he said. Kuznetsov also said the bugging itself had been unlawful as it was carried out when Chakhmakhchyan enjoyed immunity from prosecution as a senator. Attempts to reach officials at the City Prosecutor's Office and the Tverskoi District Court for comment were unsuccessful Monday. Chakhmakhchyan was arrested in February on suspicion of accepting a $300,000 bribe while in office. He was expelled from the Federation Council and stripped of immunity from prosecution last June after security agents claimed to have caught him with the bribe during a sting operation. The former senator from Kalmykia has consistently maintained his innocence.

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