Specialized Law Office. Protection in cases of economic crimes

Professional criminal defense in the economic sphere and corruption in Russia (Moscow)

Constitutional Rights of the Citizen

Applicable at all stages of criminal proceedings.

Article 48 of the Constitution

1. Everyone shall be guaranteed the right to qualified legal assistance. In the cases envisaged by law, legal assistance shall be free.

2. Any person detained, taken into custody or accused of committing a crime shall have the right to receive assistance of a lawyer (counsel for the defense) from the moment of detention, confinement in custody or facing charges accordingly.

From the above provisions, if interpreted literally, it follows that the right to the lawyer assistance arises from the moment of detention.

However, in practice, the right to assistance by a defense counsel arises much earlier, which has been repeatedly emphasized by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation in its definitions and resolutions.

That is to say, according to Resolution No 11-P of 27 June 2000 on the case concerning the constitutionality of the provisions of Clause 1 of Article 47 and Clause 2 of Article 51 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, the constitutional right to assistance of a lawyer (a counsel for the defense) cannot be restricted by federal law, therefore, in the context of its enforcement, the concepts of ‘detainee’, ‘accused’, ‘indictment’ should be construed in their constitutional legal sense, rather than a more narrow sense given to them by the RF Criminal Procedure Code of the Russian Federation. In order to implement the mentioned constitutional right, it is necessary to consider not only the formal procedural status, but also the actual status of the person being publicly prosecuted. This being the case, the fact of the criminal prosecution and, therefore, prosecutorial activities run against a specific person may be supported by a statement instituting the criminal case against the person, conduct of investigative actions (search, identification, questioning session, etc.) with him/her and other measures taken for the purpose of his/her incrimination or indicating the presence of suspicion against him/her (in particular, by articulating of the right not to testify against oneself in accordance with Article 51 (Clause 1) of the Constitution of the Russian Federation). Since these actions are aimed at identifying the facts and circumstances incriminating the person being criminally prosecuted, he/she must be immediately given the chance to seek help from a lawyer (counsel for the defense). This enforces the conditions that allow that person to get an adequate understanding of his/her rights and responsibilities, of the charges against him/her and, therefore, efficiently defend oneself; and that further indemnify against recognition as unacceptable of evidence obtained during the investigation (Article 50, Clause 2 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation).

The foregoing dictation of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, being obligatory for persons implementing criminal proceedings, the criminal prosecution in this context, allows to be assisted by a lawyer not only during the pre-investigation probe, but since the moment of first summoning to law enforcement authorities. Together with that, you have the right to give explanations, or refuse to give explanations, citing the provisions of Article 51 of the Constitution.

Article 49 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation

1. Everyone accused of committing a crime shall be considered innocent until his guilt is proved according to the rules fixed by the federal law and confirmed by the sentence of a court, which has come into legal force.

2. The accused shall not be obliged to prove his innocence.

3. Irremovable doubts about the guilt of a person shall be interpreted in favor of the accused.

Article 50 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation

1. No one may be convicted twice for one and the same crime.

2. In administering justice it shall not be allowed to use evidence received by violating the federal law.

3. Everyone convicted for a crime shall have the right to appeal against the judgment of a superior court according to the rules envisaged by the federal law, as well as to ask for pardon or a mitigation of punishment.

Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation

1. No one shall be obliged to give incriminating evidence, husband or wife and close relatives the range of whom is determined by the federal law.

2. The federal law may envisage other cases of absolution from the obligation to testify.

If You are Summoned for Questioning


  • Keep calm
  • Do not testify without a lawyer
  • Upon detention inform friends and relatives about your whereabouts
  • Call an attorney or get him brought by friends or relatives
  • Refuse the services of a lawyer proposed by the investigator
  • Carefully prepare in advance for an interview or questioning session
  • Answer questions only, do not respond to assumptions and statements
  • Reply succinctly and exclusively within the limits of the question posed
  • If necessary, demand explanation of the question
  • Feeling uncertain to respond, inform that you do not have a possibility to answer the question, having pointed at your poor memory or absence of data on the question posed


The survey is considered to be one of types of investigative operations, is regulated by the Law on Investigative Activities in the Russian Federation, and consists in obtaining data from the interviewee.

The survey procedure is not regulated in any way by law, and due to this fact, during the survey with you, the primary right that you have is the right to withdraw from the survey. At the same time, you may even not come out at all in case you are summoned to an operative service unit.

If you agree to have the survey, you have the right to refuse to give explanations, according to the provisions of Article 51 of the Constitution of the Russian Federation (you have the right not to give incriminating evidence, concerning yourself, husband or wife and close relatives), and also have the right to assistance of a counsel for the defense.

When you give your explanations at the stage of the pre-investigation probe under Articles 144-145 of the RF Criminal Procedure Code, if you are the ‘alleged suspect’, you have the right to refuse to give explanations and not present yourself to give explanations, and you also have the right to refuse to give explanations under the provisions of Article 51 of the Constitution.

If you are not the alleged suspect, you also have the right not to come for the survey.

Quite often, law enforcement authorities are trying to limit the right to assistance of counsel for the defense, referring to the fact that the criminal case has not yet opened, and the right to attorney assistance has not yet arisen for the interviewee, and therefore the survey or explanations session will be held in the absence of an attorney.

However, such a position of law enforcement representatives is mistaken; the position of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, as set out in the Decision of 11 June 2000 should be applicable here, pursuant to which the right to professional legal assistance of attorney cannot be limited, and such assistance should be given to each person, including within the framework of criminal prosecution in all its forms.

That is to say, the right to the attorney assistance arises from the moment of summoning you for a survey or for giving explanations.


Summoning for a questioning session is carried out in the following order:

  • The witness, the suspect, the accused and the victim are summoned for questioning session with a notification paper, which sets out who is summoned and in which status, to whom and at what address, the date and time to appear for the questioning session, and the consequences of failure to appear without good reason.
  • The notification paper is given to the person who is summoned for questioning, against a receipt or is transmitted through communication means. In the temporary absence of the person summoned for questioning, the notification paper will be given to an adult member of his/her family or submitted to the administration at his/her place of work, or on behalf of the investigator to other persons and companies who are obliged to pass the notification paper to the person summoned for questioning.
  • Quite often, the investigator summons for questioning over phone, however, in the case of failure to appear for questioning after investigator’s phone call no responsibility for this cannot be attached.
  • A person summoned for questioning, is required to appear at the appointed time or to notify the investigator in advance of the reasons for non-attendance. Notify the investigator by phone, fax or telegram.
  • In case of absence without valid reasons the person summoned for questioning, may be subjected to either coercive bringing or other coercive procedural measures envisaged in Article 111 of this Code.
  • A military serviceman is summoned for questioning by informing the command of his military unit.

General rules of questioning at the stage of preliminary investigation

The questioning does not require for a person conducting the questioning session to have any resolution (decision).

At nighttime the questioning is not allowed, except in cases of urgency.

When conducting a questioning, it is unacceptable to use violence, threats or other unlawful measures, as well as endangering the life and health of the persons involved.

The investigator, involving other participants of the criminal justice process (attesting witnesses, etc.) into the questioning, verifies their identity, explains to them the rights and responsibility. If the performance of questioning involves an interpreter, he is also warned about criminal liability for the knowingly wrong translation.

In the performance of questioning, electronic devices can be used (such as a computer, etc.).

The investigator is entitled to engage in the questioning the official of the body that carries out investigatory activities, which is mentioned with a corresponding note in the protocol.

In the course of a questioning session the records are made in the form of a protocol, specifying the following:
1) Place and date of the investigative action, the start time and end time to the nearest minute;
2) Post, name and initials of the person who compiled the protocol;
3) The surname and initials of every person involved in the investigative action, and where necessary, address and other details of his/her identity.

The questioning is carried out in the place where the preliminary investigation is performed. The investigator is entitled, if he deems necessary, to conduct a questioning session at the location of the interviewee (e.g. at the place of residence or place of work).

The questioning session cannot last more than 4 hours continuously, and therefore in the event the interviewing person violates the specified time, it is necessary to get this recorded in the questioning protocol.

The continuation of a questioning session is allowed after a break for at least one hour for rest and meal, and the total duration of the questioning session during a day should not exceed 8 hours.

If there are medical indications, the length of the questioning session is set based on the doctor’s opinion (the decision is made by medical staff for each specific case).

It should be remembered that staying in a medical facility is not always considered as a bar to conducting a questioning session.

In the event that the person questioned does not know the language in which the questioning session is conducted, then he/she is assigned an interpreter. The questioned person has the right to testify in his/her own language.

In case the questioning is conducted in the absence of an interpreter, such evidence may subsequently be recognized as invalid. The investigator’s decision to assign an interpreter is made in form of a resolution.

Asking suggestive questions is prohibited. As for the rest, the investigator is free in choosing questioning tactics. That is to say, the questioning may take place both in the form of a free account or question-answer.

The questioned person is entitled to use documents and records. Quite often at questioning, there appears a need to use records and documents, especially in criminal cases on economic crimes, where normally there is a sufficiently large volume of printed documents (contracts, payment orders, etc.).

At the initiative of the investigator or at the request of the person being questioned, photography, audio and (or) video recording, filming can be carried out in the course of questioning session; the resulting materials are stored with the criminal file and are sealed at the end of the preliminary investigation. In this case, it is very difficult to controvert the course and results of the questioning session conducted. You need to know and remember that the questioning with the use of audio and video recording benefit only the investigator.

Questioning during the hearing

The questioning during the trial is the most common way not only to produce, but also verify the evidence. That is why the rules of its producing are stipulated in quite a detail under the Russian Criminal Procedure Code. In addition to the questioning rules mentioned above, the criminal procedural law establishes additional requirements.

These requirements, in particular, relate to the following:
1) The rules of posing questions to questioned persons;
2) Reasons for the announcement in the court of testimony given by them before;
3) Special features of the questioning of certain categories of persons that are juvenile witnesses and victims, the defense expert and a visiting expert.

According to Clause 1 of Article 275 of the Code, if the defendant gives his/her consent to testify, he/she is first questioned by the counsel for the defense and the participants of the trial from the defense party, then by the public prosecutor and the participants of the trial from the prosecution party. The court asks questions to the defendant after he has been questioned by the parties (Clause 3). In accordance with Clause 3 of Article 278 of the RF Criminal Procedure Code, the first party to ask questions to the witness is the party that requested his summoning at the hearing. The judge asks questions to the witness after the parties have questioned him. After the questioning session of the victim or witness by the parties and the judgment seat is over, they may be asked questions by any trial participants afterwards when the new evidence is obtained.

However, it is unacceptable before the completion of the questioning session to announce protocols of investigative actions containing data about the circumstances of which the person has not been questioned during the court proceedings.