February 17, 2019
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has won the case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Navalny’s case concerned seven illegal administrative detentions in the period of 2012 – 2014, when he was arrested and found guilty of administrative offenses. Alexey Navalny’s defence insisted on political motivation of the Russian authorities and the ECHR would recognize Article 18 violation of the European Convention on limits of restrictions on Alexey Navalny’s rights. This article is a mechanism for restricting an abuse of power, especially against political opponents. Applying this and several other articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, the European Court in Strasbourg has come to a decision on political motives of the Russian authorities behind Navalny’s persecution. It should be noted that the ECHR very rarely acknowledges violations of Article 18. The last time it was in 2004 “in the case of Vladimir Gusinsky”. The initial court’s decision in Navalny’s case was announced in February 2017. The Court recognized that the Russian opposition leader’s rights for liberty and security of person and fair trial (Articles 5 and 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights) had been violated six times from seven. The Court has also noted violation of Article 11 (a freedom of assembly and associations). The Russian Ministry of Justice appealed against the initial February decision. On 15 November 2018, the ECHR Grand Chamber reached a verdict that cannot be appealed. Grand Chamber not only confirmed the previous decision, but also recognized violation of the Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning Navalny which forbids the state to impose restrictions on the rights guaranteed by other articles (in this case - on the right of a freedom of assembly and security of person). Moreover, the ECHR “recommended that (Russian) government took the measures guaranteeing the right for a freedom of peaceful assembly in Russia”. The ECHR determined that Russia should pay 50,000 euros in “moral compensation”. The remaining sum was calculated from material and legal costs. In total - 63,000 euros ($71,000). Alexey Navalny considers this decision as a victory that is of great importance for all those people in Russia whose rights are restricted by the authorities. It is especially important now when the situation with human rights in Russia is promptly worsening. The State Duma of the Russian Federation is going to adopt a number of laws depriving Russians, and in particular youth, the rights to peaceful assembly (will consider a question of introduction of penalties for “involvement of minors” into protest actions, and even deprivation of the parental rights is possible) in the near future. The purpose of the Russian authorities - to narrow opportunities for protest and to increase “cost” of participation in it. The ECHR decision in the case of Alexey Navalny actually recognizes that human rights violations in Russia are politically motivated. At the same time, this victory can be considered as a serious support for the Russian opposition, all those political and civil activists who assert believes, rights and freedoms in Russia with risk for their own lives.
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