Pavel Chikov: The European Court of Human Rights finds a search of a human rights defender’s premises to be obstruction of his professional activities

28 September 2021

by Pavel Chikov, head of the international human rights group Agora:

Source: Moscow Helsinki Group [original source:, 28.09.2021]In 2012

The ECtHR has communicated the application of lawyer Ernest Mezak under the article on obstruction of an appeal to the Strasbourg court because of the seizure of a laptop during a search. This was reported by his lawyer Aleksei Laptev who works in association with Agora.

On 26th of June police searched Mezak’s house in Syktyvkar as part of a criminal investigation into insulting a judge (Article 297, Part 2, of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). The case was opened because of his posts on social media after the protests last winter. During the investigation, two laptops and a hard drive were seized from Mezak.

The lawyer is known for conducting 150 cases at the ECtHR. Since the police seized the equipment from him, Mezak has been unable to continue working on the applications. He immediately notified the European Court and filed a complaint against the search.

Today it became known that the ECtHR communicated his application under a rather exotic article of the Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom, 34. It deals with preventing applicants from applying to Strasbourg.

This is a case of obstruction of professional legal activity by conducting a search and seizing equipment.

The ECtHR invited the Russian government to prepare its comments on the complaint by 25th of October.

In 2012 Ernest Mezak (pictured) was awarded the Moscow Helsinki Group prize for defending human rights in court.

Translated by Ecaterina Hughes

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