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Vitaly Cherkasov – L4L letter

Russia

On 25 November 2014, human rights lawyer Vitaly Cherkasov was attacked after defending an LGBTI rights activist in court. This was reported by Frontline Defenders on their website. The attackers sprayed an unknown liquid on Cherkasov.

Vitaly Cherkasov is a member of the Interregional Association of Human Rights Organisation “Agora” which provides legal aid to individuals and non-governmental organisations and has been involved in defending LGBTI rights activists.

On 25 November, Cherkasov defended an LGTBI-activist in a court in St. Petersburg. Before and during the hearing, a group of approximately ten people identifying themselves as “Orthodox Church activists” verbally attacked Cherkasov. After the hearing, Cherkasov was followed by the group and several court bailiffs had to escort Vitaly Cherkasov to the bus stop for his protection. On the way, the “Orthodox Church activists” produced two syringes and tried to spray an unknown liquid onto Vitaly Cherkasov’s face, but he managed to duck out of the way and the liquid landed on his clothes and hands.

After the incident, Vitaly Cherkasov attempted to call the police but there was no response to his request of assistance. He went to the police station to lodge a complaint about the incident and asked for analysis of the liquid on his clothes, but the police refused to take samples.

Vitaly Cherkasov is not the only lawyer of Agora that has experienced difficulties in connection to his legitimate professional activities. In 2011, Ilnur Sharapov received several death threats by phone. In 2012 and 2013, Sergey Golubok and Dmitri Dinze also received threats in connection to their defence of LGBTI activists.

L4L has called upon the authorities to carry out a thorough and impartial investigation into the attack on Cherkasov and to guarantee that lawyers in the Russian Federation are able to practice law without threat, intimidation, hindrance, harassment, improper interference or reprisals.

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