Russia: Court makes €160,000 award after backing ‘right to protest’ complaint

Judges have ruled that Russian local authorities repeatedly undermined public protests against alleged corruption, ineffective governance and the repression of civil liberties, contravening European human rights laws.

In today’s Chamber judgment1 in the case of Lashmankin and Others v. Russia (application no. 57818/09, 51169/10, 4618/11, 19700/11, 31040/11, 47609/11, 55306/11, 59410/11, 7189/12, 16128/12, 16134/12, 20273/12, 51540/12, 64243/12, and 37038/13) the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

violations of Articles 11 (freedom of assembly), 13 (right to an effective remedy) in conjunction with 11, 5 (right to liberty) and 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case was brought by 23 applicants, all Russian nationals who were born between 1941 and 1990, and live in Russia. They alleged that the local authorities imposed restrictions on the location, time or manner of conduct of peaceful assemblies planned by them, without any proper justification.

The court found that the authorities had placed such severe limitations on the applicants’ plans for public events, they had violated the applicants’ right to freedom of assembly. The restrictions included requirements for the location, time or manner of conduct that undermined the very purpose of the event (for example, by specifying that it had to be held out of the town centre, where
nobody would see it).

These restrictions – along with a wide range of other measures taken against the applicants -had been disproportionate and unjustified. Furthermore, they had been based on legal provisions which had not protected against an arbitrary and discriminatory use of the authorities’ power.

There had also been no legal procedure available that would have allowed the applicants to properly challenge the authorities’ decisions.

As Just satisfaction (Article 41), in respect of pecuniary damage, the court held that Russia was to pay Tarasov 450 euros (EUR).

In respect of non-pecuniary damage, the court held that Russia was to pay three applicants EUR 10,000, 14 applicants EUR 7,500, and five applicants EUR 5,000.

In respect of costs and expenses, the court held that Russia was to pay nine of the applicants a total of EUR 11,600.

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