Russian Kleptocracy And The Rule Of Law: How The Kremlin Undermines European Judicial Systems
"Vladimir Putin and those around him represent a critical threat to the international rule of law. The time has come to respond to his threat with decisive action that will protect our institutions, and pave the way for Russia’s eventual transition into a state that respects the rule of law, so that it can take its rightful place in the community of nations."
The scale of Russian interference in the English judiciary is such that it now constitutes a “critical national security threat” according to prominent QC, Ben Emmerson.
The remarks come in the foreword to a report on Russian interference in European judicial systems. The report concludes that the Kremlin has, on occasions, “turned [Western] judiciaries into tools of Russian foreign policy”. It goes on to say that “the UK judicial system has a particular importance to Putin and his cronies” and has become “a frontline in Putin’s… campaign against critics and opposition figures”.
In a statement today, Bill Browder, the Kremlin-critic and Magnitsky laws campaigner, also warns that English courts may not be “able to offer protection [to critics of the Russian state] from Kremlin-backed lawfare”.
Emmerson’s remarks warn that the UK government’s responses to this threat “do not begin to go far enough”. Emmerson claims that the Russian state has placed “blatant lies, forged documents, and utterly implausible explanations” before European courts.
Ben Emmerson QC has represented a series of the Kremlin’s foes in proceedings across Europe including Marina Litvinenko, Bill Browder, and the states of Ukraine and Georgia.
International arrest and extradition powers are highlighted as being particularly vulnerable to Russian misuse, a problem Ben Emmerson QC warns will “rise significantly” following Brexit.
Arguing an urgent policy response is required, the report recommends:
- That the Foreign Affairs Select Committee should hold an inquiry into how Russia abuses the international legal system.
- Enact a statutory duty to issue judges with political guidance on the validity of Russia’s justice system.
- Introduce a “strong presumption” against Russian state entities in cases before the courts.
The report, entitled Russian Kleptocracy and the Rule of Law: How the Kremlin undermines European Judicial Systems, considers six cases of Russian judicial interference in Europe and assesses the risks posed to the British judicial system.
In separate remarks over the weekend, the report’s author warned that Russian figures, abetted by “pin-striped enablers” in legal firms, are exploiting courts in Europe to launder money out of Russia.
Dr Andrew Foxall, the report’s author, identified cases brought by Russian entities that are nothing more than elaborate ruses in which both parties conspire to game the courts in a money laundering exercise. He claims that it is “questionable” whether law firms are “taking their duties as seriously as they might”.
(Inc. UK P&P)