2012 22/03
Андрэй Варвашэвіч

Andrey Varvashevich

On March 6, 2012 the Presidium of the Minsk City Bar Association has considered the disciplinary proceedings against a lawyer Andrey Varvashevich and decided to exclude him from the bar “for committing a disciplinary offense, not compatible with the rank of a lawyer, in terms of his intentional actions, which collectively humiliated personal dignity and high rank of a lawyer and undermined the prestige of the legal profession, public confidence to a lawyer and the legal profession as a whole”. However, from the text of the decree of the Presidium it is not clear what action of A.Varvashevich was the reason for his exclusion from the Bar.

A.Varvashevich has been working in the legal profession since 1998, and hasn’t been brought to a disciplinary responsibility before. He was awarded by the Presidium of Minsk State Bar with letters of acknowledgement for his professionalism and the faithful implementation of human rights activities.

By a strange coincidence, this is the second lawyer of presidential candidate Andrey Sannikau, who shared the same fate. In March 2011 a similar decision was taken by Presidium of Minsk State Bar against the lawyer Paval Sapielka.

After exclusion of P. Sapielka from the board members, lawyer A.Varvashevich entered into defense of interests of A.Sannikau on the criminal case about the events of December 19, 2010, and until recent time has been protecting Sannikau’s interests actively, including the period of imprisonment.

At the time a problem occurred, A.Varvashevich along with attorney M.Kavaleuskaya who was also defending A.Sannikau, sought for a possibility to visit their client in the correctional facilities to provide him legal support.

Since October 2011, for more than three months, these attempts have been unsuccessful due to the management of the colonies which have been forbidding visiting A.Sannikau on trumped-up grounds. In this regard, the lawyers filed numerous complaints about violations of the rights of the convicted person and his defenders to various authorities: the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Department of Corrections of Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs, Department of Corrections of Vitsebsk region, Department of Corrections of Mahiliou region, the General Prosecutor of the Republic of Belarus, Magiliou region Prosecutor’s office , Vitsebsk region Prosecutor’s Office, Vitsebsk district court, the court of Vitebsk region, etc. For all their appeals the lawyers have received answers in which all the actions of officials who dad refused to admit lawyers to prison to visit A.Sannikau were recognized as legitimate and justified. The situation was widely publicized in the media and has received great public interest, both in Belarus and abroad.

In connection with these circumstances the professional activity of A.Varvashevich was under careful attention of the Justice Department. But there were no professional violations in carrying out his professional activity, so the vector of the attention has shifted to the lawyer’s privacy.

His imposition at the administrative responsibility for very questionable charges in the conflict between him and lawyer N.Pryshchepava became the reason for disciplinary proceedings.

N.Prishchepava, incidentally, is the sister of the former chairman of the Minsk City Bar Association A.Pylchanka, who in a result of a compromise with the Ministry of Justice has recently retired from his post as a chairman of the Bar on his own will, although there was a representation of the Ministry of Justice on the early termination of his powers for the numerous violations committed by him.

On 21.12.2011 L.Lapo, the judge of Minsk Frunzensky district recognized A.Varvashevich guilty of committing an administrative offense under Art. 9.1. of Administrative Code (intentional infliction of minor bodily harm, which entailed no short-term health problems).

A.Varvashevich in the production of the administrative case initially did not admit his guilt of the offense and in support of his position presented arguments and some evidence (but in its ruling the court didn’t give any assessment to them), and asked to call and question witnesses, and also to demand additional evidence proving his innocence (but the court refused with no motivation).

In addition, on 21.12.2011 judge L.Lapo on his own initiative violating the law invented and made a private decision to eliminate the causes and conditions?? of the offense, addressed to the head of the legal advice office of the Frunzensky district of Minsk, while the document was not provided in general by the Procedural-Executive Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Belarus.

In connection with the apparent illegality of judicial decisions on the administrative case A.Varvashevich appealed them in Minsk city court with a demand for their abolition.

On 07.02.2012 the complaint on the administrative case was considered by Minsk city court and left without satisfaction, however, A.Varvashevich did not participate in the trial, because he was not notified about the court session.

On 15.03.2012 in order to avoid the publicity because of problems related to his privacy, A.Varvashevich filed an application to the Minsk City Bar Association on his expulsion from the Bar on his own will. On the same day his application was granted.

However, a few days later, namely on 20.03.2012, the Presidium of the Minsk City Bar Association annulled its decision on the dismissal of Varvashevich form the Bar on his own will and initiated disciplinary proceedings against him.

It is difficult to say which the true reason was for such action of the Presidium. Perhaps this was due to the actions of “the victim’s” brother, the former chairman of the Minsk City Bar A.Pylchanka who had once robbed a former candidate for President of the Republic of Belarus A.Sannikau of his right to defense by excluding P. Sapielka from the Bar. Together with this, it is possible that the decision to terminate the professional activity of A.Varvashevich under discreditable reasons was initiated by state agencies and was connected with his active advocacy for the protection of the interests of A.Sannikau.

So far is not known, on whose initiative the previous decision of lawyers’ self-government body was annulled.

On 21.02.2012 A.Varvashevich sent an application the Minsk City Bar Association to provide him with an extract from the decision of the Presidium of the Minsk City Bar Association of 20.02.2012 about initiating disciplinary proceedings against him and to tell what exactly was the reason and grounds for disciplinary proceedings what actions he is accused of, as well as to inform him about the membership of the Disciplinary Committee in his case. There still hasn’t been any response to this appeal.

On 24.02.2012 A.Varvashevich provided the Minsk City Bar Association with explanations, in which he pointed at his innocence, the falsification of evidence in the administrative case and about the expiring dates for being a subject of a disciplinary action: in accordance with the law on the Bar at the end of one month from the date of discovery of a disciplinary offense disciplinary proceedings can not be initiated, and if initiated is to be terminated.

These arguments were not taken into account by the Presidium of the Minsk City Bar Association, and on March 6, 2012 A.Varvashevich lost his right to be engaged in advocacy. In the decree of the Presidium of the Minsk City Bar Association it is stated that “taking into account the gravity of the circumstances, no conscience of his guilt, the absence of extenuating circumstances, the Presidium concludes that the use of extreme disciplinary measures in the form of exclusion from the legal profession is to be applied”.

As is evident from the decision of the Presidium, 15 years of faultless advocacy is no longer extenuating circumstance for his fellow attorneys. And at the same time, Art. 10 of the Law “On Advocacy” restricts access to the legal profession only to persons who committed a premeditated crime. Bringing to administrative responsibility has never been grounds for expulsion from the Bar before. Perhaps the Minsk City Bar Association is creating a new practice of deprivation of the right to be engaged in advocacy for achieving somebody’s ends.

A.Varvashevich challenged in the established order both bringing him to administrative responsibility, and exclusion from the legal profession. Analysis of judicial practice in similar appeals to the Court by attorneys deprived of licenses, does not give reasons for being optimistic.

Now deprivation A.Varvashevich opportunity to practice law is vigorously debated in the legal community. After all, if bringing to administrative responsibility will be considered “an act inconsistent with the title of lawyer”, and Belarusian legislation provides a great deal of reasons for being brought to this responsibility, soon the unwanted lawyers will be deprived of the opportunity to defend their clients for ticketless travel on public transport or for crossing the street in the wrong place …

Quoting legal distribution,
Prepared by Ales LETA,
Belarusian Legal Portal,
by.prava-by.info

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