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Ernest Mezak

HRD, Lawyer

Ernest Mezak is a prominent human rights defender and lawyer from the Komi Republic, Russia. He represents victims of violations of law enforcement agencies in courts at the national level, and has also acted as a legal representative at the European Court of Human Rights in around 200 cases. In one such case, the ECHR recognized the violation of the right to freedom of assembly regarding the regional legislative ban on public gatherings on the Main Square in Syktivkar. He also successfully obtained pilot decisions on the “inhuman conditions” of prisoner transportation, which resulted in a considerable review of the practice. In 2012, he was a laureate of the Moscow Helsinki Group Human Rights Award in the category “For defending human rights in courts”. He also previously worked as a lawyer in the Human Rights Foundation “Public Verdict”.


The environment for the work of human rights defenders (HRDs) in the Russian Federation is difficult, especially for those who defend and promote the rights of LGBTI people, ethnic and religious minorities, refugees, as well as activists of the North Caucasus and the unlawfully annexed Crimean Peninsula. HRDs are often subjected to acts of harassment, surveillance, physical attacks, threat, raids and searches on their offices and homes, slander and smear campaigns, judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, and ill-treatment, as well as violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly. There have also been cases where HRDs have been murdered as a result of their work.