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Ramil Akhmetgaliev

Lawyer, Kazan

Ramil
Ramil Akhmetgaliev

Managing Partner of the law firm Akhmetgaliev, Khrunova & Partners.

System dimension

Ramil Akhmetgaliev, attorney-at-law, gained recognition for having successfully challenged the constitutionality of provisions laid down in 6 federal laws:

  • Law on the rules and procedure for entry into and departure from the Russian Federation;
  • Law on the legal status of foreign citizens in the Russian Federation;
  • Law on prevention of the spread in the Russian Federation of the disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV);
  • Law on the Prosecution Service of the Russian Federation;
  • Law on non-commercial organisations;
  • Law on the militia service.

Prosecutorial investigations

In 2015, Ramil Akhmetgaliev successfully petitioned the Constitutional Court obtaining a severe limitation of prosecutorial powers to arbitrarily investigate legal entities (Kommersant). Prior to the Constitutional Court’s ruling prosecutorial checks were not governed by a strict set of rules and prosecutors could investigate any legal entity, including NGOs in an entirely arbitrary manner, prolonging the investigation for as long as they saw fit. On 17 February 2015, the Russian Constitutional Court struck down the Federal Law on the Prosecution Service on the grounds of being anti-constitutional (Ruling No 2-P). At present. a Bill amending the Law on the prosecution service has been adopted at first reading by the National Parliament of the Russian Federation. The draft law lays down detailed rules and procedure for conducting prosecutorial checks on legal entities, including NGOs.

Forced separation of families

For a long time, Russia suspended the rights of HIV-positive foreign nationals, with the Federal Migration Service, Rospotrebnadzor, consistently separating families by deporting HIV-positive members, regardless of the fact that migrant workers left their wives, husbands and children in Russia. In 2015, Ramil Akhmetgaliev successfully challenged the provision before the Constitutional Court, obtaining a Ruling according to which being HIV-positive does not constitute grounds for deportation. The forceful separation of families was ruled anti-constitutional (Vedomosti). The federal Law on the legal status of foreign nationals in the Russian Federation and the Law on prevention of the spread of the disease caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV) were subsequently amended and at present the rights of the individuals concerned are protected by law.

Law prohibiting criticism of the authorities

In 2011, Ramil Akhmetgaliev successfully challenged the prohibition for government employees and police officers to publicly criticise the authorities and obtained a ruling of the Constitutional Court according to which the provision in question is anti-constitutional. Prior to the ruling, the law prohibited civil servants and the employees of law enforcement agencies to publicly criticise their superiors and operations. The subsequently adopted Law on the police service and Law on civil servants take into account the ruling of the Constitutional Court.

Foreign government agents

In 2014, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation declared the lower limit of the penalties imposed in administrative lawsuits against NGOs found to act as ‘foreign agents’ unconstitutional (Article 19.34 of the Administrative Procedure Code) and ordered a revision of the judgments rendered by the courts. This has resulted in amendments to the legislation governing the levying of fines in administrative lawsuits. In addition, one of the plaintiffs represented by Ramil Akhmetgaliev — the Kostroma Civil Initiatives Support Centre — won a lawsuit and has subsequently been removed from the Register of NGOs acting as foreign government agents. The organisation will continue to work in this area with other NGOs.

Thus, the lawyer Ramil Akhmetgaliev is engaged in the comprehensive protection of the legal rights of individuals and legal entities in lawsuits brought before the Constitutional Court of Russia.

In addition, Mr. Akhmetgaliev obtained from the Constitutional Court a number of rulings clarifying the constitutional meaning of a number of provisions laid down in different laws, and in particular the client-attorney privilege, searches and compensations, and rallies. He represented the plaintiff in the Kommersant case before the Constitutional Court in a lawsuit concerning anonymous complaints, which led to unjustified checks being conducted on legal entities (Vedomosti) and in the Swamp Case (Vedomosti) in a lawsuit concerning the refusal to investigate evidence presented by the defense (Vedomosti).

Strategic complaints

The unlicensed software cases

Several years ago, the Russian law enforcement agencies attempted to obstruct the activities of several NGOs and independent media by instituting criminal cases on account of the alleged use of unlicensed software. Ramil Akhmetgaliev succeeded in having the criminal investigations against Lyudmila Kotova, editor-in-chief of VolgaInform news agency (Samara Province), Lyudmila Kuzmina, Head of the Samara based organisation Golos, Anastasia Denisova, a civil rights activist (Krasnodar Province) and the Baykal Environmental Wave, an NGO based in Irkutsk, terminated. In addition, the criminal prosecution of the editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta in Samara, Sergey Kurt-Adjiev, was dropped. In 2010 in New York, Ramil Akhmetgaliev, along with fellow civil rights activists and the senior managers from Microsoft, developed a programme for granting unilateral licenses, which frees journalists and civil rights activists of possible claims on the part of law enforcement agencies. The unlawful criminal prosecution of editors-in-chief of local media and heads of NGOs on account of the use of unlicensed software in connection with their professional role and activities was terminated.

The extremism cases

During the same period, criminal prosecutions were initiated on account of alleged extremism against social groups comprising individuals ‘assisting law enforcement authorities’ and other government officials (judges, members of parliament, civil servants, etc.). This negative practice was suspended by a Ruling of the General Assembly of the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, by which the Supreme Court explicitly excluded criticism of public officials and government bodies from the scope of extremist crimes. Thus, in 2012 Ramil Akhmetgaliev succeeded in having the criminal prosecution against the editor-in-chief of the Tyumen Evening, Vladimir Efimov, who in 2008 published articles criticising the police and the Chelyabinsk blogger, Andrey Ermolenko, suspected for having committed acts of extremism by publishing, in 2009, of materials exposing government officials and law enforcement officers. Earlier, the publisher of the Altay newspaper Listok, Sergey Mihaylov, was acquitted for publishing a critical article about the provincial governor and his administration.

Pressure on NGOs

In 2008, Ramil Akhmetgaliev was participated in the discussions at the Supreme Court aiming to ensure case-law uniformity in relation to motions seeking the dissolution of NGOs. In particular, acting as defense attorney of the Samara-based organisation VOICE (GOLOS), Mr. Akhmetgaliev obtained an unprecedented Supreme Court judgment according to which motions seeking the dissolution of a civil society organisation on a single count of breach of federal law is unlawful. In the wake of the judgment, all charges filed by government bodies against GOLOS and the Voice of the Volga Region (Golos-Povoljiye) were dropped.

In 2009-2010, Ramil Akhmetgaliev contributed to shaping case-law on the donations received by NGOs from sources abroad. As a result of this dispute between the Russian tax authorities and NGOs the Supreme Court of Arbitration of Russia ruled that non-business organisations are not taxable for donations received from international sources.

High-profile cases

Ramil Akhmetgaliev represented Alexey Navalny in the criminal trial brought against him on charges relating to publications that appeared in his blog. He also achieved termination of the criminal proceedings, on account of lack of evidence, against the painter Pyotr Pavlensky for his act of political protest Fixation, the dismissal of the criminal lawsuit filed the then Head of the organisation Russian Youth (Rosmolodezhi), Vasyli Yakemenko, against the journalist Oleg Kashin; and acting as Oleg Kashin’s attorney in the lawsuit regarding the journalist’s beating.

Awards

In 2014, Ramil Akhmetgaliev received an award from the Moscow Helsinki Committee in the category ‘Human Rights Protection in Court’.

Background

Mr. Akhmetgaliev has been a lawyer since 2004. In 1999 he was appointed investigator and later worked as an assistant prosecutor in Tatarstan. He is a graduate of the Law Faculty of the State University of Kazan. Since 2004 when he became a lawyer, he has actively cooperated with human rights organisations in lawsuits concerning violations of the human and civil rights of citizens by government officials and bodies. Legal analyst of the International Human Rights Group Agora and co-author of the books Non-government organisations. A decade of survival and Methods of conducting public events (role distribution, communication with journalists, protection).

Registration number with the Tatarstan Bar Association 11/1161.



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Important

INCLO. Report 'Surveillance and Democracy' 31.10.2016 INCLO presents annual report 'Surveillance and Democracy: Chilling tales from around the world'

Agora presents annual report 'Internet Freedom 2015: Triumph of Censorship' 16.03.2016 The present report, which sets out an overview of the restrictions imposed on freedom of Internet in Russia, has been compiled on the basis of the ongoing monitoring of the events and developments that occurred during 2015. It comprises two main sections – the first containing the author’s appraisal of the freedom of Internet and the second – a description of the results of the monitoring along with certain telling examples.



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