EU Court to rule in Navalny against Russian state case

EPA/YURI KOCHETKOV

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny escorted by a Moscow bailiff goes from the Anti-Corruption Foundation headed by Navalny in Moscow, Russia, 31 January 2017.

EU Court to rule in Navalny against Russian state case


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The European Court of Human Rights is due to publish a ruling in the Navalny v. Russia case at the latest on Thursday 2 February.

Navalny will be absent, after Russian bailiffs have taken him forcibly  to the Leninsky District Court of Kirov to answer charges of embezzlement.

On January 30, the Kirov court ruled that Navalny and his co-defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov, must be compelled to appear after they stayed away from the last two hearings.

The next hearing at the court in Kirov, nearly 800 kilometers northeast of Moscow, is scheduled for today.

Russia’s Supreme Court threw out the 2013 conviction of Navalny and Ofitserov on charges of large-scale theft involving timber sales and ordered the current retrial, which began in December.

Navalny, 40, was handed a five-year suspended sentence in the initial trial in the case, which he said was politically motivated punishment for his opposition activity.

Navalny was convicted of fraud in a separate case in 2014 and given a 3 1/2-year suspended sentence.

He has announced plans to run for president in 2018, but if he is convicted at the retrial he is likely to be barred from seeking political office.

In the details of the case filed at the European Court of Human Rights it is said that on the evening of 5 March 2012, Navalny was arrested during a meeting held in Moscow’s Pushkinskaya Square involving around 500 people, which was devoted to the allegedly rigged Russian presidential elections. During an overnight “walkabout” in Moscow on 8 May 2012, where activists met to discuss the inauguration of President Putin the previous day, Navalny was arrested without warning on two occasions: firstly in the early hours of the morning whilst walking down Lubyanskiy Proyezd accompanied by about 170 people; and secondly between 11p.m. and midnight, whilst walking down Bolshaya Nikitskaya Street in a group of around 50 people.

At 6 a.m. on 9 May 2012 Navalny was arrested in Kudrinskaya Square in Moscow whilst in a gathering of 50 to 100 people discussing current affairs. On 27 October 2012 Navalny had picketed the Russian Investigation Committee to protest against “repressions and torture” in co-ordination with around 30 others, and was arrested – according to him, whilst walking away from the event. Finally, Navalny was arrested twice on 24 February 2014: first when attending Zamoskvoretskiy District Court for the delivery of the judgment in a case concerning Bolotnaya Square protestors; and second when attending a public gathering of around 150 participants in Tverkaya Street later that evening.

Following each of the arrests, Navalny was taken to a police station for several hours, while an offence report was drawn up. He was then charged with an administrative offence, of either breaching the established procedure for conducting public events (under Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Offences); or disobeying a lawful order of the police (under Article 19.3 of the Code).

On two of the occasions, after being arrested and charged he was kept in pre-trial detention (for a number of hours on 9 May 2012; and overnight on the evening of 24 February 2014). All of the charges led to a hearing, in which Navalny was duly convicted of an offence. On six occasions he was sentenced to a fine, ranging from 1,000 to 30,000 Russian roubles; and on one occasion he was sentenced to seven days’ administrative detention. All of Navalnyy’s appeals against the judgments were dismissed.

Relying on Article 11 (right to freedom of assembly), Navalny complains that the authorities repeatedly interrupted peaceful, non-violent gatherings, by arresting, prosecuting and eventually convicting him. Relying on Article 5 (right to liberty), he complains that the seven arrests (and two instances of pre-trial detention) were unlawful and arbitrary deprivations of his liberty. Relying on Article 6 (right to a fair trial), he complains that the subsequent proceedings against him were all unfair. Finally, Navalny relies on Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination), as well as Article 18 (limitation on the restriction of rights) taken in conjunction with Articles 5 and 11, to complain that the authorities’ actions were politically motivated.

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