I visited Piatisgorsk in the Stavropol Region of Russia this week in order to speak about Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights provision of legal aid to Chechen judges and lawyers. The Council of Europe and the Ombudsman of the Russian Federation had organised the seminar as part of its Access to Justice project.
Piatisgorsk is situated just north of the Caucuses and the enormous snow capped Mount Elbrus is visible in the distance.
Piatisgorsk is a spa town. Russians come from far and wide to drink and bathe in its mineral waters in sanitoria that date back to the late 19th Century and some of the buildings still standing in the town centre give visitors a real sense of how splendid it must have looked at that time.
The conference itself was held in a classic Soviet style hotel built in the 1960’s. Dual translation was provided by an elderly couple, Eugene and Zlelta and it went very smoothly. There were lots of questions about the English legal system and the provision of legal aid in our country and more widely in Europe.
Now I’m back at a local airport waiting for my flight to Moscow – on a very old Tupulov with a lot of Russian soldiers! Looking forward to getting back to Blighty safe and sound!