Recent Amendments to Russian Advocacy Law: Tightening Legal Regulations and Potential Impact on Human Rights

On April 10 2024, the Russian Duma approved amendments to the 2002 Advocacy Law, significantly tightening regulations within the legal profession.

This is part of a broader trend over the past two decades characterized by the gradual erosion of rights and protections for lawyers and thus their clients.

Key changes include the creation of a Unified State Register of Lawyers, managed by the Ministry of Justice, which could limit legal practice to those centrally approved and undermine lawyer independence. Further controls include restricted access to police facilities without explicit permission, and the possibility of revoking a lawyer’s status if they spend more than a year abroad.

These regulations have been criticized for potentially undermining the legal advocacy system, particularly impacting associative workers involved in human rights and high-profile defense cases. Critics are concerned that these changes occur in Russia amid the recent labeling of the LGBT movement as a terrorist organization and the ongoing requirement for humanitarian workers to register as foreign agents.