Mark Feygin, a Russian lawyer and defender of Ukrainian political prisoners in Russia and the Crimea appealed to European leaders asking them to protect him from persecution in his own country.
Feygin wrote an appeal addressed to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, which he then handed over to Ukrinform.
"By the will of the circumstances, Germany and France are involved in the settlement of the crisis in Ukraine through the quadripartite ‘Normandy format.’ This was supplemented by the mission to negotiate the release of prisoners, both in the east of Ukraine and in Russia itself. Concerning the fate of one of these prisoners, the Ukrainian journalist Roman Sushchenko, arrested in Moscow in September 2016, I myself addressed you, the first persons of France and Germany," the Russian human rights defender wrote.
As Feygin noted, efforts are aimed at the prompt return home of his client Sushchenko, who spent six years in Paris as a regular correspondent of the Ukrinform agency.
"I, as a lawyer, tried to achieve the best possible way of saving my client by combining procedural and political efforts. Realizing that the backdrop for this legal defense activities is essentially a war between Russia and Ukraine, I understood the entire danger of my position," Feygin stressed.
He said that, as a Russian lawyer, he participated in the most high-profile political processes: from Pussy Riot to Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko and Crimean activist of Mejlis Ilmi Umerov. "It would seem that over the years, I've gotten used to the frank persecution by those who are dissatisfied with my work, but in the case of Roman Sushchenko, who is accused of espionage in Russia, I was met with an unprecedented level of pressure. Russian officials who oversee the issues of Ukrainian political prisoners launched a public campaign of harassment and persecution against me," the lawyer said.
As Feygin noted, today in Russia he can lose his lawyer status and be brought to criminal liability under far-fetched pretexts, including based on what was written in social networks.
"However, the reality is such that in the very near future, until the end of 2017, I'm going to be deprived of the opportunity to engage in professional activities and be removed from the defense of journalist Roman Sushchenko," Feygin said.
He explained that the goal of this letter is for the European mediators to be clearly aware of the whole picture of the struggle of an independent political bar with arbitrariness and lawlessness in Russia.
"I hope, dear Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Macron, you will not give up efforts to get Roman Suschenko out of Russian prison, even after I am removed from his defense," Feygin said.
In violation of international rules, Roman Suschenko, Ukrinform’s correspondent in France was detained on September 30, 2016 in Moscow, where he arrived for a private visit. On October 7, he was accused of espionage. The FSB of Russia stated that Sushchenko is an employee of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. The Ministry of Defense refuted this. Feygin thinks his trial might begin in January 2018.