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    The case is taboo

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    The appeal hearing in the case against Alexei Gorinov in the Moscow City Court will be held closed to the press and the public, Kommersant found out. The municipal deputy of Moscow is appealing against the earlier sentence – seven years in prison for “disseminating false information about the RF Armed Forces” (Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The defense insists that there are no reasons to close the meeting based on the norms of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CPC). Lawyer Olga Podoplelova points to a “judicial trend” towards secrecy in cases involving information about the Russian army. It should be noted that a number of witnesses for the prosecution in the first instance stated that there was pressure from Mr. Gorinov’s defense.

    demand “to provide a large courtroom for an appeal in the case of Alexei Gorinov.” The proposal was caused by the excitement around the criminal case against Alexei Gorinov, the first in Russia sentenced to real imprisonment for seven years under a new article of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation on “dissemination of false information” about the Russian army. A deputy of the Krasnoselsky district of Moscow since 2017, a member of the Solidarity movement, Mr. Gorinov made a public statement at a meeting of the council in March 2022 criticizing the Russian special operation on the territory of Ukraine, stating, in particular, that against such a background, holding a children’s drawing contest was inappropriate.

    The court responded to the supporters of Mr. Gorinov, who sent requests to provide a large hall, two answers are at the disposal of Kommersant. “On August 22, Judge Sokolovsky issued a ruling on the appointment of a closed court session,” says the letters signed by Deputy Chairman of the Moscow City Court Maxim Ivchenko, “and therefore there is no need to provide a large courtroom.”

    Protection of Alexei Gorinova “had no idea” about the closing of the meeting, Kommersant was told in OVD-Info. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure, there are only four reasons to close the process from the media and listeners, and they are not applicable to the case of Mr. Gorinov, lawyers assure: the meeting can be closed from the public if the case contains materials “containing state secrets”; if the defendant is “under the age of 16”; if the court is considering a crime “against the sexual inviolability of the person” or if “this is required in the interests of ensuring the safety of the participants or their relatives.” “In our opinion, there are no grounds for holding the meeting behind closed doors,” lawyer Katerina Tertukhina, representing Alexei Gorinov, told Kommersant. On September 15, she got acquainted with the materials of the criminal case and did not find in them a decision to close the meeting. The lawyer emphasizes that representatives of the Moscow City Court refused to acquaint her with the decision, and in accordance with the requirements of the same Code of Criminal Procedure (Article 241), the court decision to close “is proclaimed in open court.” This means that if the decision is made public, then directly at the meeting on Monday. Then the court will have to explain the reasons for the closure.

    The press service of the Moscow City Court confirmed to Kommersant that the meeting was closed from the press and the public. “In accordance with federal law No. 262-FZ “On ensuring access to information on the activities of courts in the Russian Federation”, it is not provided for the provision of information on the reasons for closing the case,” the press service said. “When considering the case in the court of first instance, the case was heard in behind closed doors in the relevant part (meaning the part of the interrogation of some witnesses for the prosecution. – Kommersant). In accordance with the provisions of Art. 389.11 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation, the delivery to participants in criminal proceedings of a copy of the decision on the appointment of a court session of the court of appeal is not provided. The announcement of the operative part, the press service of the Moscow City Court added, “will be held in open mode.”

    definitely”, emphasizes Vadim Klyuvgant, Partner at Pen & Paper. This will allow “to compare it with the actual circumstances of the case.” “This is especially important because among the grounds for holding a closed session there are evaluative ones,” Mr. Klyuvgant explains. “For example, the safety of the participants in the trial, the presence of information constituting a secret other than state secrets protected by law. At the same time, it is not news for a long time that courts often seek to restrict the access of the public and the press to court hearings in cases where there is reason to expect a public outcry that is undesirable for the court, the prosecution or other authorities.” The expert points out that for this the courts use the “frontal” method – they declare the court session closed, including with a broad interpretation of the legal grounds for this. Vadim Klyuvgant calls other methods “hybrid” and refers to them the provision of a cramped meeting room for high-profile cases with a large number of listeners, as well as the “use of epidemiological or other” restrictions. a trend towards the secrecy of the courts,” draws attention to the head of the legal service of the “Rus Sitting” foundation (included in the register of foreign agents) Olga Podoplelova. She recalls that recently, at the request of the prosecutor’s office and the TFR, the courts closed the processes for choosing measures of restraint for politician Ilya Yashin (included in the register of foreign agents) and Dmitry Talantov, president of the Bar Association of Udmurtia. They are being held in a pre-trial detention center on charges of disseminating false information about the RF Armed Forces, just like Alexei Gorinov. In motions to close the meetings, the prosecutor’s office and the ICR pointed to a possible “disclosure of preliminary investigation data” in the open choice of preventive measures. The expert added that the court of first instance, which sentenced Aleksey Gorinov to seven years in prison, considered the case openly, “with the exception of the interrogation of several witnesses for the prosecution.” We note that they stated that they were being pressured by the side of the deputy’s defense.

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