Two Legal Aid Networks Launched in Russia

April 2011

In March, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative, through its U.S. Agency for International Development-funded Rule of Law Partnership Project, launched two legal aid networks in Russia. The networks—one in Ulyanovsk Region and the other in Leningrad Region—were launched in partnership with regional governmental and non-governmental organizations. Staffed with local attorneys, the legal aid centers offer pro bono in-person and telephone legal consultations and referrals to underprivileged populations. The centers have already helped increase residents’ access to justice. During the first month of their operations, they have offered more than 350 consultations each on legal issues ranging from housing and labor rights to consumer protection and family law.

The initiative in Ulyanovsk has enjoyed a significant level of joint buy-in and support from the Ulyanovsk Region Government and the Ulyanovsk Bar Chamber. On April 14, the regional government amended the laws governing the provision of government-supported free legal services, expanding the categories of citizens who qualify for such services. Among other changes, the amendment raises the maximum monthly income a family can have to still qualify for free legal aid.  Under the amended law, more people, including disabled citizens, single mothers, large families and families with a monthly income of up to $400 (increased from about $200) will qualify for free legal aid. The regional government has earmarked four million rubles (about $130,000) for the provision of free legal aid this year. In addition to supporting the amendments, the regional bar chamber houses the hotline and supports outreach efforts—including through active participation of its president—to inform the public of the free legal services.

To learn more about our work in Russia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.

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