Natalya Taubina: “Stas had a great future ahead of him”

 Source: (info), 19/01/11

· Human Rights Defenders · Articles by Human Rights Defenders · Moscow City & Moscow Region

Natalya Taubina: I first met Stanislav Markelov in 2004. It so happened that in that year our Public Verdict Foundation was dealing with several high-profile and socially significant cases on which Stanislav served as defence counsel.

In August 2004 he asked for our assistance in the so-called Cadet Case – this was the nickname of S.V. Lapin, an officer of the Khanty-Mansiisk OMON special police unit, who had been charged with kidnapping and cruel treatment. This was a rather well-known case that received good coverage in the press, particularly by Anna Politkovskaya in Novaya Gazeta. This was one of those rare instances when a member of a law enforcement agency was convicted of a serious crime committed in Chechnya.

The next time we worked together was on the so-called Poppy Case: a Moscow woman was accused of growing poppies at her dacha. She grew the poppies for culinary purposes, but that did not stop the Federal Narcotics Agency, and the case had great social significance, threatening to create a dangerous precedent. We were asked to support this case by the Institute for Human Rights, and again it was Stanislav who was in charge of the defence.

The third case on which we worked together with Stas was the Blagoveshchensk Case. The case concerned a three-day police zachistka [cleansing operation] involving the entire personnel of the Blagoveshchensk City and District Police Department and 17 special unit OMON police troopers, that was later referred to as a “preventive operation”. It resulted in the beating of hundreds of the city's inhabitants.

What immediately struck one when talking to Stanislav was his sense of purpose: he seemed to live the cases he was involved with, to get a kick out of them; and it seems to me that what mattered to Stanislav was that in each case the system had to be defeated and the acolytes of the system had to be punished for disregarding the law.

He seemed to specially seek out the more complex cases, the ones that promised to be more interesting, allowing him to test some new legal ploy or other. Once I witnessed Stanislav arguing with a lawyer working for the Foundation. It was the proverbial two lawyers and three points of view, each with his own truth, but it was obvious that Stanislav had his own clearly defined and well-thought-through approach to handling the case and that he would implement it and fight for it, no matter how absurd it may have seemed at first. He knew exactly what he wanted and steadfastly pursued the goal he had set himself.

And the results of the cases he took on provide convincing evidence that he certainly did manage to achieve the results he desired: Cadet was convicted, the Poppy Case was won.

Stas was a leader through and through, and at just over 30 he had already become a recognized professional lawyer, known beyond the borders of our country. He undoubtedly had a great future ahead of him.

Natalya Taubina,
Director, Public Verdict Foundation



Rights in Russia,
21 Jan 2011, 00:02