Ukraine: violent death of a lawyer is an attack on the legal profession

Mar 29, 2016 | News

Today, the ICJ expressed serious concern at the apparent murder of lawyer Yury Grabovsky who was found dead on 25 March. The lawyer had been missing for two weeks and was reportedly found shot and buried near the Kiev-Odessa main route.

“The death of lawyer Yury Grabovsky must be investigated in a prompt, impartial and effective manner. Other lawyers who may be under threat should be urgently granted the necessary measures of protection”, said Temur Shakirov, ICJ Legal Adivser.

Yury Grabovsky was the managing partner of law firm “Garbovsky and Co”, as well as Deputy Chair of the High Qualification Disciplinary Commission.

He represented Aleksandr Aleksandrov, who along with Evgeniy Yerofeyev, was detained last May in the Lugansk Region in Eastern Ukraine and accused of terrorism and a number of other crimes.

The lawyer’s whereabouts had been unknown since 5 March after he had left for Odessa to stay at “Arkadiya” hotel.

He was apparently supposed to leave the hotel on 7 March but he never took his belongings from there.

On 9 March, a court hearing did not take place because the lawyer was missing.

Garbovsky’s colleagues reportedly doubted the authenticity of a post on his facebook account stated that he had left Ukraine.

On 10 March, the National Association of Lawyers of Ukraine informed the National Police that the lawyer had been missing.

The same day, the Odessa police opened a criminal case on “intentional murder”.

On 20 March, the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine, Anatoly Matios, stated that a suspect in the organization of the disappearance of Grabovsky had been apprehended.

On Friday, 25 March, Prosecutor Matios said that Grabovsky “was killed in a violent way and finished off with a firearm” which according to the Prosecutor was a “specially planned operation.”

The lawyer’s body was found shot and buried 138 km south of Kiev after one of the suspects had reportedly disclosed the place of burial.

The lawyer is said to have had an explosive bracelet on his leg, apparently intended to prevent him from escaping. The names of the suspects have not been made public.

It is the second killing of a lawyer in Ukraine this month, and the fourth such killing since January 2015, including, lawyers Alexandr Gruzkov, Yury Ignatenko, Viktor Loiko, and now Yuri Grabovskiy.

Temur Shakirov stressed that “in order to fulfil their function lawyers must be able to act without fear and free from fear of reprisals of any kind”.

The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers affirm that“[w]here the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities.”

The ICJ calls on the Government of Ukraine to investigate the case and bring those responsible to justice, including both anyone who directly carried out the killing and anyone who ordered the crime.

Urgent measures to guarantee the security of lawyers should be taken, which should include effective security measures against attempts on their lives and lives of their family members.


Róisín Pillay, Director, Europe Programme, roisin.pillay(a)

Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, Europe Programme, temur.shakirov(a)

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