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European Court of Human Rights communicates Navalny’s application in “scoundrels and thieves” case

posted 10 Jun 2014, 08:07 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 16 Jun 2014, 08:01 ]
2 June 2014

Source: Open News Agency

Agora Human Rights Association reports that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has communicated the application of Aleksei Navalny in the so-called case of the “scoundrels and thieves” and has presented two questions to the government of Russia.

The ECtHR asks whether there has been a violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the right to free expression of opinion). The court is also interested in whether the Russian courts applied the norms laid down in Article 10, and cites, in particular, the cases of Reznik v Russia and OOO ‘Ivpress’ and others v Russia.

Last year Aleksei Navalny submitted an application to the Strasbourg Court about the violation of two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, and the application was given the unique reference number 32058/13 (Navalnvy vs Russia). In this case Alekse Navalny is represented by legal analyst from Agora, Damir Gainutdinov, PhD.

Navalny is convinced that in considering the legal action by Vladimir Svirid over the phrase “United Russia as a party of ‘scoundrels and thieves’ ”, Moscow’s Lyublin district court violated his right to freely express his opinion (Article 10 of the Convention), and Moscow City Court failed to restore this right.

On 4th June 2012 Moscow’s Lyublin district court partially satisfied the legal action of Vladimir Svirid, a member of the United Russia party, ruling that Aleksei Navalny pay a sum of 30,000 roubles in compensation for moral damage and publish refutations of statements that “do not correspond with reality” made in an interview with the magazine Esquire by means of publishing the court’s decision on the internet.

In the application to the ECtHR, the human rights lawyers pointed out that the court unlawfully ruled in favour of a person whose rights and interests had not been violated; the law does not forbid the expression of value judgements and opinions, and criticism of a political party is permissible. Moreover, they presented the court with an extra-judicial, independently commissioned linguistic analysis. Here the linguistic experts concluded that the statement, “United Russia is a party of scoundrels and thieves” is an emotional generalisation, which claims to express a general opinion, without attaching it to any real people or any concrete events. The linguists remarked that this pronouncement could only be an opinion, i.e. an unverified judgement based on the value system of the speaker.

Translated by Frances Robson