STATEMENT of the Bar Council of Ukraine

15:59 Mon 27.03.23 193 Reviews


of the Bar Council of Ukraine


On March 24, 2023, at 16.00, the Ukrayinska Pravda website published a publication entitled "Kremlin octopus: how Medvedchuk built his network of "advocacy," the authors of which were Oleksandr Salizhenko and Iryna Fedoriv.

Later, the same material was posted on other websites, including Movement Chesno.

According to the initial data of the Ukrayinska Pravda website, provided by Article 28 of the Law of Ukraine "On Information Agencies", Article 32 of the Law of Ukraine "On Printed Mass Media (Press) in Ukraine" (these laws expired on 31.03.2023), the name of the company is UP Media Plus LLC (EDRPOU 44172411, address: 36D Saksahanskoho St., Kyiv, 01033, Ukraine). The sole founder of UP Media Plus LLC is Dragon Capital Investments Limited, and the beneficiary is an individual - Tomas Fiala, who, according to the website "С", is also the beneficiary of a total of 142 legal entities in Ukraine.

The information contained in the publication is untrue. The Bar Council of Ukraine declares that the publication's authors and the editors of the publications that published it violated the fundamental principles of media activity. The dissemination of this inaccurate information has damaged the honor, dignity, and business reputation of the persons mentioned in it.

The publication uses references to unverified and false information, including from social media, and manipulates facts. All of this is evidence of a gross violation of journalism standards aimed at distorting the real state of affairs, increasing pressure on advocates, and is an attempt to politicize the institution of the Bar and degrade its role in protecting the rights and legitimate interests of citizens. Of particular concern is that all this is happening in the context of the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

The Ukrainian National Bar Association, the Bar Council of Ukraine, the Higher Qualification and Disciplinary Commission of the Bar, regional bar councils, and qualification and disciplinary commissions of the Bar are established and operate following the Constitution of Ukraine and the Law of Ukraine "On the Bar and Practice of Law."

The bar self-government bodies strictly adhere to Article 34 of the Constitution of Ukraine, Article 10 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms and respect the enshrined guarantees of the right to freedom of thought and speech, to free expression of their views and beliefs.

The Code of Ethics for Ukrainian Journalists stipulates (clauses 1, 6, 9, 10) that freedom of speech and expression is integral to a journalist's work. A journalist's first duty is to respect the public's right to complete objective information about facts and events. Facts, judgments, and assumptions should be clearly separated from each other. At the same time, the points of view of opponents, including those who have been the subject of journalistic criticism, should be presented in a balanced manner. The opinions of independent experts should also be presented.

At the same time, the authors did not contact the Ukrainian National Bar Association's representatives to verify the sources' veracity to ensure a balance of opinions and points of view.

It seems that the authors of the publication and the editors of the publications deliberately chose a loud and unsubstantiated headline to discredit the institution of the Ukrainian Bar as a whole and the system of bar self-government bodies that were democratically elected in the time and manner prescribed by law.

Actions related to the publication's preparation and publication have signs of violation of the fundamental guarantees of the independence of the Bar. They also pose a real danger to the constitutional foundations of the Ukrainian state and may hinder further reforms of the Ukrainian legal system. After all, the Law of Ukraine, "On the Bar and Practice of Law," was adopted in 2012 as a European integration law. Its adoption, subject to creating a professional organization of lawyers with a single membership, was part of the implementation of Ukraine's commitments to the Council of Europe. At the same time, the compliance of the relevant law with European standards has been repeatedly confirmed by the conclusions of the Venice Commission.

Today, the Ukrainian National Bar Association demonstrates the best standards of the Bar, organized into a single, solid, and independent association of professional lawyers who have acquired the status of attorneys and have undertaken to comply with the high standards outlined in the Law of Ukraine "On the Bar and Practice of Law" and the Rules of Professional Conduct approved by the highest body of the Bar self-government - the Congress of Attorneys of Ukraine. This was recognized by the international community, including the most respected bar organization in Europe - the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE). Thus, on November 25, 2022, in Brussels, the Ukrainian National Bar Association received the CCBE Human Rights Award for its outstanding and tireless commitment to human rights and the rule of law in Ukraine.

Thus, the Bar Council of Ukraine believes that the publication is aimed at destroying the foundations of an independent legal profession in Ukraine, attacking the professional rights and immunities of advocates, deviating from international standards of self-governance of the Bar, to which the national legislation of Ukraine has already been adapted, and creating obstacles to Ukraine's membership in the European Union.

The publication is also evidence of outright pressure and an attack on the independent institution of the Bar, and, as a result, deprivation of citizens of the constitutional right to legal protection, discrediting the profession and status, as well as the marginalization of the constitutional role of advocates, which is unacceptable in a state governed by the rule of law.

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