Russia’s Investigative Committee appears to be taking seriously its absurd new criminal charges against Refat Chubarov, head of the Mejlis, the representative body of the Crimean Tatar people – seriously enough to try to block a defense lawyer who has already exposed their legal nihilism. If, through its prosecutions of Mr. Chubarov and veteran Crimean Tatar leader Mustafa Dzhemilev, Russia is trying to justify flouting the International Court of Justice’s order to withdraw its ban on the Mejlis, it has chosen a very strange strategy.
Nikolai Polozov reported on April 20 that the investigator, Magomed Magomedov, has issued a decision removing him from the case, despite all the necessary authority from Mr. Chubarov himself. Mr. Magomedov claimed that since he had already defended First Deputy Mejlis leader Akhtem Chiygoz, on essentially identical charges pertaining to the same event, that “there could be contradictions” and was therefore excluding Mr. Polozov from the case. Mr. Polozov dismisses the excuse given.