ECtHR Ruling of the Week: Court communicates application made in the interests of Salman Tepsurkaev; Marina Litvinenko files application for compensation over murder of her husband Aleksandr

Week-ending 20 November 2020

This week the European Court of Human Rights communicated an application filed by the Committee Against Torture, an NGO based in Nizhny Novgorod, in the interests of Salman Tepsurkaev, a resident of Chechnya who has been the victim of a forcible disappearance having been kidnapped in Gelendjik and subsequently tortured.

Also this week lawyers acting on behalf of Marina Litvinenko, whose husband Aleksandr was murdered by polonium radiation in London in 2016, filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights seeking €3.5m in compensation from the Russian government, including punitive damages and payment for lost income. 

On the case of Salman Tepsurkaev

Caucasian Knot, Wednesday, 18 November 2020: The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has communicated the complaint filed by human rights defenders in the interests of Salman Tepsurkaev, a native of Chechnya, kidnapped in Gelendjik. It has become record fast, the “Committee against Torture” (CaT) has noted. According to Olga Sadovskaya, the head of the CaT’s international legal defence division, earlier, the ECtHR had refused to apply Rule 39 to Tepsurkaev’s case. Rights defenders asked the ECtHR to demand from the Russian Federation security measures to establish Tepsurkaev’s whereabouts, as well as guarantees of his release and safety. According to Ms Sadovskaya, the resumption of the check may be due to the fact that the ECtHR’s attention has been drawn to the case, and the Chechen investigating bodies hurry to create the visibility of investigation.

Caucasian Knot, Thursday, 19 November 2020: After September 6, there was no news from Salman Tepsurkaev, the kidnapped Chechen native, his wife Elizaveta asserts. In their turn, the blogger, Tumso Abdurakhmanov, the activist, Ruslan Kutaev, and the human rights defender, Svetlana Gannushkina, believe that the absence of new videos clips on behalf of Tepsurkaev and any news about him speaks in favour of the version of his murder. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that on October 15, Chechen investigators refused to open a case on the kidnapping of Salman Tepsurkaev, the moderator of the 1Adat Telegram Channel. On November 17, it became known that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) communicated the complaint submitted by human rights defenders in the interests of Tepsurkaev. The blogger, Tumso Abdurakhmanov, has treated the fact that videos on behalf of Tepsurkaev ceased to be posted as an alarming sign. “Salman’s story has become too resonant … It is highly likely that in retaliation for the problems he had created, he will be killed, presenting it off as suicide,” the blogger said. Tumso has noted that after the scandal, the 1Adat Telegram Channel became even more popular. “We had expected that people would get scared and stop criticizing Kadyrov; and they would unsubscribe from the 1Adat Channel, but the situation is quite the opposite,” he has explained. According to Ruslan Kutaev, those who had committed the crime against Tepsurkaev “understand that retribution is inevitable; therefore a living witness is a very serious threat to them.”

On the case of Aleksandr Litvinenko:

The Guardian wrote on Sunday 15 November 2020: The widow of Alexander Litvinenko has submitted a claim against Russia to the European court of human rights (ECHR), seeking €3.5m (£3.1m) in compensation for his murder by radiation poisoning in London. Marina Litvinenko is requesting punitive damages and payment for accumulated lost income. A public inquiry concluded that her husband’s murder in 2006 was probably ordered by Vladimir Putin. The submission also asks the Strasbourg judges to rule on the significance of the pattern of targeted assassinations and attempted killings allegedly carried out by Russian state agents across Europe and the Middle East. Among the attacks listed are the 2018 poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury and the subsequent death of Dawn Sturgess after she handled a discarded container filled with the nerve agent novichok. Russia, like the UK, is a member of the Council of Europe, which oversees the ECHR. To date the court has never awarded punitive or exemplary damages. It is being urged to do so in the exceptional circumstances of this claim and to prevent Russia from continuing its policy of covert elimination.

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