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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lawyers Accuse FSB of Using Court System to Seek Revenge

Lawyers on Friday criticized a criminal case against defense lawyer Boris Kuznetsov, warning that FSB officers risked damaging Russia's image by using the judicial system to seek revenge.

Moscow Bar Association chief Genri Reznik said people serving in the Federal Security Service had initiated a criminal case against Kuznetsov to seek revenge for cases in which he had taken on law enforcement agencies.

The City Prosecutor's Office has opened a criminal case, and a local court has sanctioned Kuznetsov's arrest for revealing state secrets by telling the Constitutional Court about a phone tap carried out on former Senator Levon Chakhmakhchyan, whom he was defending in a corruption case.

Kuznetsov fled the country earlier this month.

He said last week that he was the latest victim of a crackdown on lawyers under President Vladimir Putin. But he said the atmosphere was being created by former secret service men who think they can act with impunity under Putin.

Reznik said the council of Moscow's Bar Association, which includes Russia's top lawyers, would stand by Kuznetsov. He said the case should be closed because it is irrational.

"If it is not closed then the whole lawyer community in Russia and the whole lawyer community in the world will stand up in defense of our colleague," he told reporters. "Boris Kuznetsov has every ground to suppose that he is the victim of political persecution by the FSB for his professional work."

A spokesman for the FSB refused to comment over the phone.

"This case is motivated by something which should not drive statesmen -- simply revenge," Reznik said.

Kuznetsov's lawyer, Robert Zinovyev, said the wire tap in question had not been sanctioned by a court, making it a breach of the law and therefore not subject to the law on state secrets.