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The lawyer of Russian human rights activists asks for shelter in America

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
A Russian lawyer who defended investigative journalists and human rights activists requires protection himself and seeks it in the United States of America. Lawyer Andrey Stolbunov asked for refugee status in the US because of what he calls “fabricated” criminal accusations against him. 

Well-known Russian lawyer Andrey Stolbunov, who accused Russian regional officials of corruption and defended investigative journalist Mikhail Beketov, who was beaten to near-death, says that he is being accused of extortion in Russia.

According to the investigation, Stolbunov and his assistants demanded 22,5 million USD from the former Minister for Transport of Moscow oblast Petr Katsiv. A Radio Liberty journalist saw these accusations in Washington on a photocopy of a document issued by the Russian investigative committee on September 16, however he did not receive independent confirmation of the authenticity of the accusations, which also include other points. In particular, due to his actions Stolbunov allegedly caused damages to Patr Katsiv’s son, Denis, whom the US government accuses of participating in the robbery of 230 million USD in the case of lawyer Sergey Magnitsky.

In a phone interview to Radio Liberty, 41-year-old Stolbunov said he was head of an NGO named Spravedlivost, and according to the investigation he engaged in ‘extortion’ in the following way: he published the results of his investigations of corruption on his website. Stolbunov himself says that they used the facts his associates and himself published on the organization’s website in letters to Russia’s investigative bodies.

“There should be objective data, that people are doing this to gain something. How would we gain anything from writing to the FSB, the MIA, the prosecutor’s office: ‘Check it, here are the facts!’,” explains the Russian lawyer.

However, instead of verifying the possibly corrupt officials, Russia’s investigative bodies started accusing the lawyers. One of Stolbunov’s associates, Dmitry Baranovsky was sentenced to 12 years in jail in 2012 on accusations of extorting money from Katsiv and anther banker.

“The publications on the website are considered a way of extortion. I allegedly did this for Baranovsky to later get money. This is total nonsense and I have nothing to add to this,” says the Russian lawyer.

Andrey Stolbunov says that he has not received official accusations yet, however, he does not believe in fair trial in Russia.

Translated by: Mariya Shcherbinina
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