Conference e-mail

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki

Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Renata Mustafina (Sciences Po (CERI), France)

Human Rights Lawyers and Social Uses of Publicity in Political Processes in Russia: Going Public or Staying Quiet?

Optimistic prognostics at the beginning of 1990s about the establishment of the «rule of law» in Russia change at the beginning of 2000s for critical discoures questioning the phenomena of political uses of law. This communication aims to address the issue of publicity around «political prisoners» and the mediatization of political processes, taking the case of human rights lawyers, engaged in the defence of people in «political» processes. If there is a common proverb, circulating in the professional community of human rights lawyers - «go to jail quietly and be freed quietly» (tiho sest’ i tiho vijti) - , strategies of publicity in case of «political processes» are diverse, the continuum going from staying quiet to going as public as possible. Based on the interviews with human rights lawyers both associated with human rights organisations and those working independently from them, this communication aims to show different strategies adopted and different social uses they make from this publicity. In some cases, the absence of publicity or limited médiatisation may be «required» by the investigation which offers something in return. If there are no such arrangements, the publicity may be used by lawyers and their clients in many different ways, from symbolically subverting the judicial procedure, turning the process into a «political show», to directly preparing clients' imprisonment.