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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Supreme Court Judge Accused of Illegal Order

Lawyer Boris Kuznetsov, currently abroad and facing criminal charges at home, has requested that prosecutors investigate the Supreme Court judge who authorized a wiretap of his client's telephone conversations.

In a written request sent to the Prosecutor General's Office and the City Prosecutor's Office, Kuznetsov's lawyer, Robert Zinovyev, accuses Supreme Court Judge Anatoly Brizitsky of abuse of office, deliberately issuing an illegal ruling and violating the privacy of former Senator Levon Chakhmakhchyan.

In May 2006, Brizitsky authorized a Federal Security Service wiretap on Chakhmakhchyan, whom Kuznetsov was defending against corruption charges, according to a copy of the request obtained by The Moscow Times.

"It is against the Constitution to tap a phone conversation of a senator," Zinovyev said Wednesday. "[Brizitsky] has violated the Constitution and the federal law that provides immunity to senators. It's impossible that a judge at that level didn't know anything about that law."

Kuznetsov says his legal travails after the Chakhmakhchyan case are connected to his professional activities.

In July, Moscow's Tverskoi District Court ruled that Kuznetsov had revealed state secrets by telling the Constitutional Court about the wiretap, and city prosecutors subsequently opened a criminal investigation. Kuznetsov insisted that the bugging of Chakhmakhchyan's phone was a violation of the former senator's human rights and therefore could not be considered a state secret. He fled the country before the case against him was opened. Zinovyev said Kuznetsov was receiving medical treatment in Germany.

Kuznetsov has a warrant out for his arrest and if charged and convicted, could face up to three years in prison. Zinovyev said his client would provide documentation proving that he is not in hiding "when he finishes his treatment."

The City Prosecutor's Office received Kuznetsov's request to investigate Brizitsky on Sept. 18, according to the copy of the request.

Zinovyev said they had received no reply as of Wednesday afternoon. "It usually takes three days," Zinovyev said.

Mikhail Yogin, a spokesman for the City Prosecutor's Office's investigative department declined to comment on the status of the request. "This information is not available to the media," he said.

A Supreme Court spokesman said the court had not seen the request.

"A judge enjoys the same immunity as a State Duma deputy, and the bureaucratic procedures in these cases are very long," said the spokesman, who refused to give his name.

An official can be stripped of his immunity only after the Supreme Qualification Collegium of Judges rules that a crime was committed and then authorizes prosecutors to open a criminal case.

"It takes at least three to four months," said Mikhail Barshchevsky, the government's representative to the Constitutional Court.

Besides Chakhmakhchyan, who is charged with accepting a $300,000 bribe in a sting operation, Kuznetsov's clients have included Manana Aslamazian, head of the Educated Media Foundation, and Igor Sutyagin, a scientist sentenced by a jury to 15 years in prison for of high treason in 2004.

Kuznetsov has also represented the family of slain journalist Anna Politkovskaya.