By Stelios Orphanides
A senior attorney at the Law Office offered services and information to Russia in cases involving requests for legal assistance, Politis reported on Sunday, citing leaked emails with a Russian official.
The Politis report says that attorney Eleni Loizidou offered information about the status of cases concerning Russia’s requests for extradition of Russians or proposed ways to handle them.
In one of the leaked emails, she offered to intervene in case against an individual called Shamulov in an attempt to delay the procedure and so give Russian authorities time to prepare documents, Politis reported.
In another case, Loizidou advised Irina Shatova, an officer at the Russian prosecutor’s general’s office with who she had a friendly relationship, how to produce documents which would help the handling of cases at Cypriot courts in order to get the desired rulings, Politis said, and added that the handling of 43 cases in a legally questionable manner helped Russia.
In another email with Vladimir Zimin the deputy head of the department for international cooperation at the Russian prosecutor general’s office, dated March 14, 2013, Loizidou thanked him for the “excellent hospitality and the wonderful time we had last summer in Moscow,” and requested, in exchange for advice she offered regarding Russia’s complaints about requests for asylum filed by Russian nationals, she said apparently jokingly, that she hoped to get a job offer if she is fired for passing this type of information.
In another email with Zimin dated September 30, 2015, Loizidou who was one of the three Cypriots nominated for a position as judge at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), asked for Russia’s vote, Politis reported.
The report came weeks after Russia publicly expressed its displeasure over Cyprus’s handling of a Russian request for legal assistance in a probe against Hermitage Capital founder Bill Browder. The investor-turned-activist resorted to a Cypriot court requesting an emergency injunction prohibiting Cyprus from cooperating with Russia in the investigation which he says is politically motivated and in response to his campaign for justice for Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
Magnitsky died in a Russian prison eight years ago after exposing a $230m (€194m) tax theft when the police officers he implicated in the case arrested him, had him tortured and denied him access to medical treatment.
The Cypriot government put the investigation on ice after Browder and his associate Ivan Cherkasov filed their application in September with the Nicosia District Court, prompting criticism by the Russian foreign ministry and the Russian ambassador Stanislav Osadchiy days ahead of President Nicos Anastasiades’s visit to Moscow.
Clerides, who was responding in a text message to the Cyprus Business Mail, added that “what has to be done has to be considered”.
In 2015, Clerides ordered an investigation which led to the conviction of deputy attorney-general Rikkos Erotocritou and two other lawyers in a bribery case.
Politis reported that Loizidou’s email exchange also concern the Browder case.
On November 6, she was present at the hearing of Browder’s case at the Nicosia court, when the government objected his request.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, asked in 2014, member states to ignore Russia’s requests for legal assistance regarding Browder and follow the example of the US which five years ago passed the Magnitsky Act which targets individuals and companies involved in Magnitsky’s death. Several European countries have done so. Interpol has repeatedly rejected Russia’s arrest warrants against the US-born investor who is now a UK citizen.
When contacted by phone by the Cyprus Business Mail, Loizidou declined to comment citing time pressure as she was about to catch her flight.
Minister of Justice Ionas Nicolaou was not immediately available for comment.