This week there were four judgments by the European Court of Human Rights regarding Russia, all dated 13 October 2020: Abalymov v. Russia, Krekhalev v. Russia, Sozayev and Others v. Russia, and Zakharov and Varzhabetyan v. Russia. In these cases the Court found violations of Article 3 [prohibition on torture]; Article 5 [right to liberty and security]; Article 6 [right to fair trial]; Article 8 [right to privacy and family life]; Article 11 [freedom of assembly and association]. Sozayev and Others v. Russia concerns a peaceful picket outside the State Duma protesting the 2013 introduction of the law against ‘gay propaganda.’ Zakharov and Varzhabetyan v. Russia concerns police brutality at the 2012 Bolotnaya Square protest.
Abalymov v. Russia: a violation of Article 8 of the Convention [right to privacy and family life]; the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, EUR 9,800 plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
Krekhalev v. Russia: a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention [right to fair trial]; the respondent State is to pay the applicant, within three months, EUR 2,500 plus any tax that may be chargeable, for costs and expenses.
Sozayev and Others v. Russia: a violation of Article 11 of the Convention [freedom of assembly and association] in respect of all applicants; a violation of Articles 5 [right to liberty and security] and 6 [right to fair trial] of the Convention as regards the other complaints raised under the well‑established case-law of the Court; the respondent State is to pay each of the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table for pecuniary damage; plus EUR 5,000 to each applicant, plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
On this case, Pink News reported on 14 October 2020: The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia unlawfully violated LGBT+ activists’ right to protest against its discriminatory “gay propaganda” bill. On June 6, 2013, several activists gathered outside Russia’s State Duma to peacefully protest the reading of a bill banning the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors”. They were harassed by an opposing group of conservative Orthodox Christian activists carrying religious icons, who pelted them with eggs while chanting: “Russia is not Sodom.” Riot police surrounded the LGBT+ protestors, pushed them into buses, and arrested, convicted and fined them for so-called “administrative offences”. The government later claimed that this wasn’t because of the protesters’ sexuality, but because they had failed to notify the authorities of the public gathering. However, activists argued that the Christians who supported the bill were allowed to remain, with none being apprehended or sanctioned by police. They also highlighted the fact that the police records quoted the pro-LGBT+ slogans they chanted at the protest, adding that the Russian courts had referenced this in justification for their convictions. In a ruling on Tuesday (October 13), the top human rights court concluded that the measures taken against the protestors “did not correspond to a pressing social need and were thus not necessary in a democratic society”.
Zakharov and Varzhabetyan v. Russia: “Art 11 • Art 3 (substantive and procedural) • Freedom of peaceful assembly • Degrading treatment • Police brutality against peaceful participants of the Bolotnaya Square political rally and lack of effective investigation • Use of force neither strictly necessary by applicants’ own conduct nor indispensable in the context of quelling mass disorders” – a violation of Article 3 of the Convention [the prohibition on torture] in its substantive and procedural aspects in respect of both applicants; a violation of Article 11 of the Convention [freedom of assembly and association] in respect of both applicants; the respondent State is to pay EUR 16,000 to the first applicant, and EUR 16,900 to the second applicant, plus any tax that may be chargeable, in respect of non-pecuniary damage; EUR 4,500 to each applicant, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, in respect of costs and expenses, to be paid directly to the respective representatives.