The justice ministry has annulled the license of legal counsel Valyantsina Busko for her participation in last month’s post-election demonstration in Minsk and asked the Minsk City Bar to punish the lawyer of former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw held in custody over the protest.
In a statement issued on January 4, the ministry said that its board had approved a proposal of the ministry’s commission for legal counseling that Ms. Busko, a Hrodna-based lawyer, be stripped of the license following her trial on a charge of participating in the demonstration.
The ministry said that it had also looked into "activities of certain lawyers defending people who were involved in actions aimed at organizing mass riots between December 19 and 20, 2010."
It established that Mr. Sannikaw’s legal counsel had "made improper remarks about the bar, which is an independent legal institution, and questioned actions performed by the Ministry of Justice in the capacity of a governmental licensing body by saying that they were tantamount to the government’s pressure on activities of public lawyers."
The ministry asked the Minsk City Bar to bring a disciplinary action against Mr. Sapelka and remove him from its board.
The ministry also sent an appeal to the information ministry, asking it to probe media reports that covered in a "biased" way activities of law enforcers with reference to the legal counsels of United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka and journalist Natallya Radzina. The lawyers denied that they had ever talked to journalists about their clients or the investigation, the ministry said.
"Other lawyers have been warned that they should make more cautious remarks to the media to prevent the distortion of real facts and the information that they give," the ministry said.