Minsk City Bar Association accepts chairman's resignation following justice ministry's request for his dismissal
The Minsk City Bar Association, at a general meeting on October 22, accepted the resignation of Chairman Alyaksandr Pylchanka, who offered to step down in September following the justice ministry's request for his dismissal.
Andrey Sankovich was elected as new chairman, Darya Lipkina, a member of the association, told BelaPAN.
Mr. Pylchanka came under pressure from the justice ministry after expressing opposition to the disbarment of defense lawyers for former presidential candidates and other individuals charged in a so-called riot case that was opened following a post-election protest staged in Minsk on December 19, 2010.
In particular, on February 17, the justice ministry annulled the licenses of Tamara Sidarenka, Uladzimir Tolstsik, Tamara Harayeva and Aleh Aheyew and Mr. Aheyew's mother, Tatsyana Aheyew. Pavel Sapelka, who represented former presidential candidate Andrey Sannikaw, was also disbarred on March 3.
In an interview with BelaPAN on February 18, Mr. Pylchanka, expressed concern about the revocation of the lawyers' licenses. "The entire leadership of the Minsk City Bar Association views the situation as critical and a real threat to both the independence of the bar as a legal institution and the independence of every individual lawyer," Mr. Pylchanka said.
Later on February 18, Justice Minister Uladzimir Halavanaw dismissed Mr. Pylchanka from a public commission that monitored lawyers' activities. Mr. Pylchanka did not attend the meetings at which the commission decided on the cases of Messrs. Tolstsik and Aheyew and Mses. Harayeva and Aheyew.
In July, lawyers Darya Lipkina, Hanna Bakhtsina and Iryna Burak, who also defended December 19 protesters, "failed" to pass the justice ministry's performance review. However, their licenses were not revoked.