rbc.ua: Sergey Ripa, Ablyazov’s lawyer: "The Ukrainian investigator has deprived my client of a legal defence"
© mukhtarablyazov.org 24.06.2014

Lawyer Sergey Ripa is being prevented from studying the case file of his client Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh dissident politician directly related to the BTA Bank of Kazakhstan. In his interview for the RBC-Ukraine media agency, Sergey explained that Maksim Melnik, the investigator in charge of this case, invents various tricks to prevent Ablyazov’s lawyer from getting the details of the pre-trial investigation and to prevent the suspect from availing himself of the defence to which he is entitled. In spite of all this, Sergey Ripa believes that Ablyazov’s case, initiated at the time of Viktor Yanukovich’s rule, has every chances of being resolved positively for Ablyazov after the power transfer.

Sergey Ripa talks indignantly about this situation, openly stating that the investigator is obviously seeking ways to bypass the laws of Ukraine.

RBC-Ukraine: You represent the Kazakh politician Mukhtar Ablyazov in the criminal case opened against him in Ukraine...
Sergey Ripa: Not quite. I have been denied this right by the investigator, Maksim Melnik who did not have any legal grounds to do so. On June 4 I, as Ablyazov’s lawyer, filed an application to the investigator, requesting to study the pre-trial investigation file.
On June 17, however, I received a refusal letter from Melnik. Thus, Melnik violated the fundamental principal of Ukrainian law which undoubtedly provides for the lawyer’s right to study these documents.

RBC-Ukraine: How did the investigator explain his refusal?
Sergey Ripa: He claimed that the application and the documents that I had submitted did not make it clear whose interests I was to represent. That‘s absurd. Melnik has an agreement on the provision of legal assistance signed between me and Mr. Ablyazov. The text of the agreement states explicitly that I am authorised to act as a defender od Mr. Ablyazov and am obliged to represent his interests.
Apart from that, Melnik claims that I will be able to work only after he has brought me into proceedings as Ablyazov’s defender. Though, according to the law, I need no additional permission from the investigator to start working once I have submitted all the necessary documents determined by the law.

RBC-Ukraine: Does the Ukrainian legislation allow the prevention of a lawyer from defending his client?
Sergey Ripa: That’s the point: the Ukrainian legislation by no means provides for such things. The investigator is simply barring the defender from the criminal proceedings on the basis of formal grounds. Later I’ll have to apply to the court to cancel the investigator‘s illegal decisions, but in our case it‘s time that is crucial.
It is obvious that by abusing the procedure the investigator postpones the moment when the unwanted defender comes into the case. I have already prepared a complaint to file against his illegal actions, and I will fight, and I’ll ensure that the illegal decision is cancelled.

RBC-Ukraine: So, why is the investigator barring you from your work?
Sergey Ripa: I don’t know the exact reasons behind his behaviour. I can assume that he has committed serious procedural irregularities before, and now, by preventing me from working on the case, he is protecting himself.
Apart from this, I don’t exclude the possibility of influence of some, shall we say, third party on the investigator. The criminal case against Mr. Ablyazov is of great public interest. He is a very well-known person, his activity is widely covered in the media, and that undoubtedly influences the investigator.
But I will only be able to understand and determine the motives of Melnik’s behaviour, as well as the nature of his worries, after I have started to fulfill the functions of Ablyazov’s defender in the criminal case and analysed all the aspects of this case in more detail.

RBC-Ukraine: Was it Melnik, too, who wrote the request for Mr. Ablyazov's extradition?
Sergey Ripa: Yes. And in this request there are many discrepancies with the current legal framework and with the European Convention on Extradition.
For instance, the request does not indicate the location of the suspect, Mr. Ablyazov, at the time of his alleged actions listed in the pre-trial investigation files. Melnik doesn’t explain how the juriscdiction of Ukraine applies to the case of Ablyazov, a foreigner. Neither does he indicate the location where the criminal offences — for which the extradition is being requested — were committed. In the extradition documents the investigator does not mention any legal entities or individuals registered or living in Ukraine whose interests were harmed as a result of Ablyazov’s actions.
The only entity that claims to have been harmed by Mr.Ablyazov is the Kazakh BTA Bank. It used to belong to Mr. Ablyazov but was actually expropriated from him by the Kazakh authorities.

RBC-Ukraine: What might be the effect of the violations that you detected upon the examination of the extradition request demanding that Mukhtar Ablyazov be sent from France to Ukraine?
Sergey Ripa: I do hope that the Court of Appeal of Lyon will take these, along with many other violations into account at the hearings which will take place this September.

source: http://www.rbc.ua/rus/interview/accidents/advokat-ablyazova-sergey-ripa-ukrainskiy-sledovatel-lishil-24062014081900