Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A Battle Against Justice in Russia!

Yesterday, advocates for the rule of law and human rights were reminded of the bitter truth that standing up for justice nowadays is a risky endeavor - tantamount to swimming against the tide of popular opinion. We have seen it in Finland - where a minister received death threats for stance that favor diversity and the right to seek asylum; we have seen it in the U.S. - where lawmakers receive death threats for favoring a health care bill that guarantees the civil rights of millions of Americans. In Russia, the reminder was even more grim: Eduard Chuvashov - a top Judge at Moscow's City Court, was gunned down at the stairwell of his Moscow apartment by an unknown assailant. Is there a battle against the administration of justice in Russia?

Judge Chuvashov is famous for cracking down on nationalist groups that don't tolerate Blacks, Gays, Jews and other minority groups in Russia. In February this year, he sentenced members of a skinhead group - "White Wolves" to between 6.5 and 23 years in prison, for ethnic-motivated murders.

Earlier this month of April, Judge Chuvashov handed down sentences of 10 years each, to two leaders of a nationalistic group - Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky. They were accused of hate crimes committed between 2006 and 2007. Other members of the group were slammed with sentences of between 6 and 20 years behind bars.

From the aforementioned cases, which are only a few of the many sensitive cases, you'd agree that Eduard Chuvashov presided over high-profile criminal cases and was in the spotlight of criminal and nationalist organizations. He sent a clear message that hate crimes and race killings have no place in a civilized society. Could this be the cause of his death?

The murder of Judge Chuvashov comes in the wake of other murders related to the administration of justice in Russia. In 2009, a high-profile human rights lawyer - Stanislav Markelov, who participated in the trial of a Russian army Colonel who murdered a Chechen girl, was gunned down in broad daylight in the heart of Moscow!

Investigations are underway to uncover Judge Chuvashov's assailant and authorities have not completely ruled out the possibility that the murder is related to the judge's role in the Moscow City Court. It is worth mentioning that the judge had [allegedly] received death threats.

What are your thoughts? Do you think there's a battle against the administration of justice and the rule of law in Russia?

More importantly, if you were to fill judge Eduard Chuvashov's shoes in the Moscow City Court - would you be impartial and follow in the footsteps of the man who died in the "line of duty", or would you give in to pressure?

I'd like to hear from you!

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