Week-ending 19 February 2021
This week the European Court of Human Rights handed down three rulings with respect to Russia in which it found violations of Articles 2 [right to life], 3 [prohibition on torture], 5 [liberty and security of person] and 6 [fair trial]. On 16 February 2021 the ECtHR decided to indicate to the Government of Russia, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to release Aleksei Navalny with regard to the nature and extent of risk to the applicant’s life. The measure applies with immediate effect.
KUZNETSOVA v, RUSSIA, 16 February 2021
Translated from the French by Rights in Russia
A violation of Article 2 of the Convention in its procedural aspect; the defendant State shall pay to the claimant within three months EUR 10 000 plus any amount that may be due on that sum as tax, for non-material damage, to be converted into the currency of the defendant State at the rate applicable on the date of settlement.
MANSUROV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA, 16 February 2021
A violation of Article 3 of the Convention under its substantive limb in that Mr Matyushin, Mr Burobin, Mr Vecherskiy and Mr Petrov were subjected to torture in police custody and that Mr Mansurov, Mr Gavshin, Mr Sitdikov and Mr Zabiyaka were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, and a violation of Article 3 of the Convention under its procedural limb in respect of Mr Mansurov, Mr Gavshin, Mr Matyushin, Mr Burobin, Mr Petrov, Mr Sitdikov and Mr Zabiyaka in that no effective investigation into their complaints was carried out by the authorities; a violation of Article 3 of the Convention in respect of Mr Mansurov on account of inadequate conditions of detention in remand prison no. 18/1 in Izhevsk between 26 May and 19 June 2005; a violation of Article 5 §§ 1, 3 and 5 of the Convention in respect of Mr Burobin; a violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention in respect of Mr Zabiyaka; a violation of Article 6 of the Convention in respect of Mr Gavshin, Mr Vecherskiy and Mr Petrov; the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement.
TIKHONOV AND KHASIS v. RUSSIA, 16 February 2021
Ruling in French. Translation by Rights in Russia
Art 6 § 1 (criminal) – Impartial court – Refusal to disqualify jurors who had knowledge of articles published on the Internet about the trial and who had discussed with a person outside the judicial system – Conduct of jurors prohibited by national law – Presiding judge not having sought the veracity of the allegations about the discussion – Presiding judge not having determined the content of the information extraneous to the criminal trial known to the jurors and verified their ability to remain objective and impartial after becoming aware of it – Absence of adequate measures and sufficient guarantees taken by the national courts.
A violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention on account of the lack of impartiality of the jury which had rendered the guilty verdict in respect of the applicants; the finding of a violation constitutes in itself sufficient just satisfaction for the non-pecuniary damage suffered by the applicants.
LegalPost.eu, 18 February 2021: On 16 February 2021 the Court decided to indicate to the Government of Russia, under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court, to release the applicant. This measure shall apply with immediate effect. The Court had regard to the nature and extent of risk to the applicant’s life, demonstrated prima facie for the purposes of applying the interim measure, and seen in the light of the overall circumstances of the applicant’s current detention. This measure has been granted without prejudice to the Court’s decision on the merits of the present case and the competence of the Committee of Ministers.
The Guardian, 17 February 2021: The European court of human rights has told Russia to free Alexei Navalny, prompting a new standoff between Europe and Moscow over the fate of Vladimir Putin’s staunchest critic. Russia has said it will ignore the ruling despite a requirement to comply as a member of the Council of Europe, calling the court’s decision “blatant and gross interference in the judicial affairs of a sovereign state”. In a ruling published on Wednesday, the Strasbourg-based court granted Navalny a temporary release from jail because it said the government “could not provide sufficient safeguards for his life and health”. Navalny was the victim in August of a suspected FSB poisoning, which he claims was ordered by Putin, and has said his life is in danger in custody. He has been sentenced to spend the next two and a half years in prison for violating parole from a 2014 sentence and is facing further jail time as the government presses new charges. The decision was made regarding the terms of Navalny’s confinement, the court noted, and was not a reversal of the 2014 embezzlement conviction against Navalny, which was widely seen as politically motivated. He is due in court to appeal against the decision this week. A copy of the judgment posted online said Navalny should be released “with immediate effect”.
The Moscow Times, 18 February 2021: Europe’s rights court told Russia on Wednesday to release jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny out of concern for his life, but Moscow swiftly rejected the call. […] Navalny, 44, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for his release on Jan. 20, just days after his arrest at a Moscow airport, saying his life was in danger if he remained in custody. The Strasbourg-based court said Wednesday it had upheld that request and told Moscow to release Navalny “with immediate effect.” It said that the ruling was taken with “regard to the nature and extent of risk to the applicant’s life.” […] But shortly after the court made its decision public, Russia’s justice ministry said its demands were “unreasonable and unlawful” and there were no legal grounds to release Navalny. Justice Minister Konstantin Chuychenko told the Interfax news agency that the ECHR demands represented “clear and gross interference” in the activities of Russia’s justice system. According to constitutional changes introduced in Russia last year, decisions enforced by international treaties may not be executed if they contradict Russia’s basic law. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday accused the ECHR of “pressure” on Russia and “interference” in its domestic affairs.
The Moscow Times, 18 February 2021: Russia is likely to ignore the European rights court’s demand for the immediate release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, legal experts said as Moscow categorically rejected the calls. Navalny, 44, appealed to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for his release on Jan. 20, days after his arrest at a Moscow airport. The Strasbourg-based court said Wednesday it had upheld that request, which was motivated by claims that Navalny’s life was in danger if he remained in custody, and told Moscow to release the Kremlin critic “with immediate effect.” […] Legal experts are unanimous in that the ECHR cannot force Russia to comply with its ruling. Russia’s justice minister himself pointed to constitutional changes introduced last year that ban the execution of international treaties if they contradict Russia’s basic law. […] But Sergei Golubok, who represents Russian plaintiffs at the ECHR, maintained that Russia must abide by the demand “as a requirement of both international and Russian law.” “Attempts to find justifications for ignoring this decision are outside the legal plane,” Golubok told the Fontanka.ru news website, echoing comments made earlier by Navalny’s senior allies when news of the ECHR ruling broke.
Meduza, 16 February 2021: Jailed Mediazona editor-in-chief Sergey Smirnov has filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), reports the rights organization Apologia Protesta. This comes after a Russian court sentenced him to 25 days administrative arrest for reposting a joke on Twitter. Smirnov’s complaint states that in their handling of his case, the Russian authorities violated several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights — including the right to personal security, the right to a fair trial and punishment based solely on the law, and the right to freedom of expression and assembly, among others. In addition, the appeal refers to the “inhumane conditions” Smirnov is being subjected to while in detention and the violation of his right to appeal against the immediate enforcement of administrative arrest.