European Court recognises political motive in Navalny arrests
The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg has delivered a verdict in the case of Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny, ruling in his favour and against the Russian Federation.
Novaya Gazeta reports that the court found the recent string of arrests and detentions of Navalny to be politically motivated. The last time such a verdict against Russia was passed was fourteen years ago in 2004.
The case was considered by twenty judges, led by Italian jurist and ECHR president Guido Raimondi. Navalny attended the court session with his brother Oleg and two lawyers.
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The court ruled that Article 18 of the European Convention on Human Rights had been violated.
The article reads: “The restrictions permitted under this Convention to the said rights and freedoms shall not be applied for any purpose other than those for which they have been prescribed.”
The court concluded that Navalny had been persecuted for political reasons, linking Article 18 to other articles of the convention.
The case concerns seven detentions of Navalny at various protest rallies and the subsequent prosecution for administrative offenses, as well as two administrative arrests for 7 and 15 days. The cases listed occurred from March 2012 to February 2014.
The first ruling made today by the court was in respect to a verdict delivered on 2 February 2017. The court recognized that the articles of the Convention, which provide for the right to freedom of assembly, the right to liberty and personal integrity, and the right to a fair trial, had been violated in all seven detention cases.
At the time, seven judges refused to recognise the political motivation behind Navalny’s arrests and detentions. The court ordered the Russian government to pay Navalny 50,000 euros for non-pecuniary damage, 12,653 euros for legal costs and 1,025 euros in material damage.
The Russian authorities appealed the decision, while Navalny himself demanded that the political aspect of his persecution be recognised. As a result, the case was transferred to the Grand Chamber of the ECHR in May 2017. On 24 January 2018 the court heard the opinion of the parties, and has now made a decision.