European Court of Human Rights: Russian security services involved in abduction of rights activist and journalists

posted 20 Mar 2017, 07:27 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 20 Mar 2017, 07:49 ]
14 March 2017

Source: [original source: Memorial Human Rights Centre]

On 14 March 2017 the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) issued a decision regarding case No. 5632/10 ‘Orlov and others v Russia

The applicants in the case were the chair of the board of the Memorial Human Rights Centre, Oleg Orlov (at present – a member of the board), and journalists from the TV company Ren-TV – Artem Vysotsky, Stanislav Gorychikh, and Karen Sakhinov. 

The applicants were abducted by armed individuals on the night of 23-24th November 2007 from the hotel ‘Assa’ (in Nazran, Ingushetiia), they were hooded, carried off to an isolated place where they were threatened with being shot, savagely beaten and thrown into a snowy field. All their documents, money, personal belongings and computers, and the journalists’ TV recording equipment, were taken from them. 

The ECtHR found that responsibility for their illegal detention, inhuman treatment and the illegal taking of their belongings lies with the Russian authorities. The authorities are also responsible for there being no proper investigation of the crimes. The ECtHR found violations of the right to liberty and security of person (Article 5 of the Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms), of the ban on inhuman treatment (Article 3 of the Convention), and of the right to property (Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 of the Convention). 

The applicants were represented by Dokka Itslaev and Kirill Koroteyev, lawyers from the Memorial Human Rights Centre, and by Bill Bowring from the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), London. 

The ECtHR noted that the authorities did not dispute the version of events presented by the applicants but argued that representatives of the State were not responsible for the crime. However, from the start of the investigation those leading it had information on the involvement of the security services in the crime. But no steps were taken to ascertain who were the concrete individuals who had been responsible for the crime. 

Among facts relevant to the case, the ECtHR drew particular attention to the removal of the security guards at the hotel Assa before the arrival of the abductors, despite the fact that high-ranking representatives of the Ministry of Internal Affairs were staying there. In addition the Court drew attention to statements of hotel staff that the abductors were members of the law enforcement agencies, the abductors’ interest in the personal details of the applicants while showing no interest in the other residents, the organized nature of their actions, and their travelling in a minibus, with no number plates, through the checkpoint. 

Each of the applicants was awarded 19,500 euros as compensation for moral damages. 

For more information about the case in Russian, see here.

Translated by Mary McAuley