Remembering Yuri Schmidt (1937-2013)

January 12, 2013

In a tremendous loss to the Russian legal and human rights communities, Yuri Schmidt died on January 12, 2013, after a long battle with cancer. Schmidt had devoted the last decades of his life to fighting for the development of the rule of law and an independent justice system in Russia, and was internationally recognised as one of Russia’s most renowned defenders of human rights. Schmidt had served as Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyer since 2004.

Schmidt graduated in 1960 from the Leningrad State University Faculty of Law and became a member of the Leningrad City Bar. As the Soviet Union was unravelling, in 1991 he formed the Russian Committee of Lawyers in Defence of Human Rights. In 1997 he was named Lawyer of the Year and received Russia’s prestigious Femida Award. In 1999 the International League for Human Rights bestowed upon Schmidt an honour for those having “courageously defended the rights of others, facing persecution themselves.” In 2010 Schmidt was awarded the Dr Rainer Hildebrandt Medal, an international human rights award in recognition of extraordinary, non-violent commitment to human rights. In 2012 Schmidt received the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, for his long commitment to achieving the rule of law in Russia, as well as his international recognition as a defender of human rights.

The video of Yuri Schmidt (in Russian)  Yuri Schmidt is talking about his parents, his profession and a little about himself. The full transcript can be found here (in Russian)