Prominent Eastern European lawyers. MT Backgrounder

Lawyer, academician, human rights activist

Ihar Rynkevich, born April 3, 1968, prominent Belarusian legal and political expert, journalist and human rights champion. Mr. Rynkevich is a member and the press secretary of the Belarus Helsinki Commission since 1996 and Vice Chairman of the Belarus Social Democratic Party. (BSDP).

Mr. Rynkevich is best known for his role as lead defence counsel for Alexander Kozulin, former Chairman of BSDP and one of the most prominent Eastern-European human rights activist. Former president (rector) of the Belarusian State University Kozulin, who holds a Ph.D. degree in mathematics and pedagogy, ran for the office of President of Belarus against the incumbent ruler Aleksandr Lukashenka in March 2006. Mr. Kozulin accused Mr. Lukashenka of corruption and violations of human rights. Several weeks before the election, on March 2, 2006, Kozulin was beaten and incarcerated by the Belarusian police. He was charged with "disorderly conduct" and "incitement to mass disorder" and sentenced to five and a half years in prison. Amnesty International declared Mr. Kozulin a prisoner of conscience. United States and Western European nations have imposed sanctions on Lukashenka and his top officials, for fraudulent elections and Kozulinís unlawful incarceration. Mr. Rynkevich worked closely with the United States Department of State, the members of the US Congress, the Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and other world democratic organization in the successful international campaign to free Kozulin. Yielding to intense international pressure, Belarusian dictator Lukashenka granted Kozulin presidential pardon in August 2008.

Education. In 1992 Mr. Rynkevich graduated from Grodno State University (Belarus) cum laude majoring in history. In 1998, he graduated cum laude from Grodno State University Law School. Member of Minsk Bar since 1999.

Public Life. Mr. Rynkevich commenced his affiliation with the BSDP in 1991 as the Chairman of the BSDP Central Oversight Commission. In 1992 he was elected member of the Central Council and Executive Committee of BSDP, and in 1995 became the BSDP press-secretary and lead election counsel. In 1995 Mr. Rynkevich co-founded Belarusian Social Democratic Union and engineered the amalgamation of the BSDP with the Party of the Peopleís Consent (PPC).

Mr. Rynkevich is one of the founders of the Belarus Press Association (BPA) and drafted the BPAís first by-laws. From 1995 to 1997 he served as Executive Director of BPA.

Mr. Rynkevich served as the vice-president of the Belarusian Media Legal Defence Centre (BMLD) in 1997-1998.

In 2001-2004 he worked closely with the Belarusian Citizensí Legal Defence Centre, a prominent human rights organization.

Mr. Rynkevich is one of the principal organizers of the citizensí campaign "Belarus for the European Council" (BEC).

In 2007, Mr. Rynkevich founded Belarusian Public Commission for Rehabilitation of the Victims of Political Repressions (PCRVPR).

Academics and Publications. From 1998 to 2006, Mr. Rynkevich taught as Associate Professor in the College of Management and Entrepreneurship in Minsk. Mr. Rynkevich authored numerous publications on the issues of legal framework of mass media, criminal procedure and legal defence, and juridical-political articles.


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