Thaw? Belarus authorities disbar lawyer who defended political prisoners, dissidents

The Belarusian Justice Ministry has disbarred Hanna Bakhtsina, a lawyer with with 38 years’ experience and well-known defender of political prisoners.

According to the ministerial commission, the reason for revoking is ‘insufficient qualifications’.

The commission simply ‘fulfilled the order of certain agencies’, Bakhtsina told

Hanna Bakhtsina defended the Union of Belarusian Writers in 2006, journalist Iryna Khalip in 2011, later she presented interests of blogger Eduard Palchys, activist Ilya Valavik and Patriots’ case defendant Miraslau Lazouski in court.

Six years ago, the lawyer was stripped of the license for a short period, but then it was reinstated. Lately, however, an extraordinary meeting has been convened. Its participants accuse Bakhtsina of improperly carrying out ‘some instructions’ given by the Ministry.

“I told them plainly: you are fulfilling the order of certain agencies that are displeased with my work. And, you know, it seems that the situation has impoved, that now it is better than it was after the post-election protests in 2010. For a lawyer, the conditions are still very tough. I signed a non-disclosure order, but … Yes, they were exerting pressure on me. And even if the Investigation Committee upheld motions, the KGB dismissed them. I endured then and this time I will remain standing as well. They call a lawyer who refuses to defy professional  principles ‘uncontrollable’,” Bakhtsina stresses.

Hanna Bakhtsina is facing the dismissal from the Minsk Bar Association. The lawyer is about to appeal against the decision of the commission.