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Counsel for Imprisoned Russian Citizen Alexey Pichugin Files Petition with UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention


Perseus Strategies, LLC announced today that Jared Genser, the firm's
Managing Director, has joined the international legal defense team for
Russian citizen Alexey Pichugin. Described by the New York Times
as "The Extractor" for his work freeing political prisoners, Mr. Genser
has previously represented such clients as former Czech Republic
President Vaclav Havel and Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Aung San Suu Kyi,
Liu Xiaobo, Desmond Tutu, and Elie Wiesel.

Earlier, Genser filed a petition to the UN Working Group on Arbitrary
Detention asking it to find Pichugin's deprivation of liberty arbitrary
and in violation of international law.

"I am honored to join Alexey Pichugin's defense team," said Mr. Genser.
"As Russia's longest serving political prisoner, Alexey is a casualty of
President Vladimir Putin's concerted campaign to crush human rights in
Russia and accumulate all political and financial power for himself.
Alexey's case demonstrates that without the willingness of the
international community to hold him to account, Putin will continue to
flout international legal standards and norms with impunity."

At the time of his arrest in 2003, Pichugin worked as a mid-level
security manager at Yukos, Mikhail Khodorkovsky's company. "This thin
connection to Putin's real enemies was enough to destroy Pichugin's
life," said Mr. Genser. Early in the morning on June 19, 2003, nearly
two dozen armed security officials showed up on Pichugin's doorstep.
They arrested him without a warrant, taking him to a detention center
where he was interrogated repeatedly without a lawyer.

"Later, he was denied access to the 'evidence' against him, held in
extended pre-trial, and denied the time and resources to prepare an
adequate defense," said Mr. Genser.

"The case against Pichugin was a total sham," said Genser. "At trial,
the prosecution offered no physical evidence linking him to the crimes
and the witnesses who testified against him offered hearsay evidence and
later recanted their testimonies."

Nevertheless, Pichugin was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in
prison. Months later, Pichugin was charged with additional counts of
murder, put through a second trial, and sentenced to life in prison.

Previously, the European Court of Human Rights has twice ruled that
Pichugin's detentions are arbitrary and in violation of international
law. The Parliamentary
of the Council of Europe issued a resolution addressing
Pichugin's case, among others, and labeled it "a clear case of
non-conformity with the rule of law." And he has attracted support from
prominent NGOs Memorial
Human Rights Center
and Freedom
, which have both have called Pichugin a political prisoner,
and the Raoul
Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
, which has labeled him a prisoner
of conscience.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is an independent and
impartial body consisting of five members appointed by the UN Human
Rights Council. The members are currently from Australia, Benin, Latvia,
Mexico, and South Korea. The Working Group has the authority to
investigate and issue legal opinions about alleged cases of arbitrary
deprivation of liberty.

An op-ed by Mr. Genser published today in The Hill can be read here.

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