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Grigory Melkonyants and Ramil Akhmedgaliev on Court Dismissal of Golos Appeal

posted 30 Dec 2011, 05:45 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 30 Dec 2011, 06:29 ]
Yesterday, 29 December, Moscow’s Meshansky district court upheld a 30,000 rouble fine levied against independent election watchdog Golos on 2 December 2011. On that day the court ruled that Golos had violated a law prohibiting news outlets from publishing polling data five days before an election. Rights in Russia was at the hearing and afterwards spoke with Grigory Melkonyants, deputy director of Golos, and Ramil Akhmedgaliev, Golos’ legal representative, a lawyer from the Agora Human Rights Association. 

Grigory Melkonyants                                                                                                                              Ramil Akhmedgaliev                                                                                                                                                                                      

Rights in Russia: How would you assess the significance of today's court decision? 

Ramil Akhmedgaliev: Today Meshchansky Court rejected our appeal. In fact what happened is that the court simply restated the earlier decision that had been issued by the magistrate. So far as procedural violations are concerned, the judge simply ignored them (I mean, violations of the principles that are at the basis of how a court should work: a court should consider an issue from all sides, in a full and objective manner, and treat prosecutor and defendant equally - the "equality of arms").  

Grigory Melkonyants: What we see is that today’s court decision had already been prepared in advance and the court proceedings and our arguments were of no significance. The judge needed only twenty minutes to reach his judgment and write out his five-page decision, print it and hand us copies. The court system has once again shown that even the most absurd accusations can find support in court. In the event, the nature of the ‘sociological research’ of which we have been accused has still not been made clear to us. In the same way, not a single paragraph was cited during the court hearing. Not a single figure was quoted. None of the accusations were substantiated. Moreover, the charges only speak of posting research of this kind on the site However, for some reason the case materials contained screen shots of reports of violations taken from the Map of Violations

The Court did not react to the numerous procedural violations that had occurred in the first case, heard on 2 December, that had been seen by journalists and sympathisers present at the hearing. The court, however, took the view that everything had been in line with the law.

Rights in Russia: What will be your next steps?

Grigory Melkonyants: We shall petition for a judicial review of this decision and prepare an application to the European Court of Human Rights.

Photos: (c) Grigory Melkonyants and (c)