A pensioner from Mariy El has maintained the honour of Russia


30 March 2011

The ECtHR has published its decision under the case of Boris Rzhavin.  According to the decision, the Court finds no reasons to justify a continued examination of the application due to the fact that the Government has undertaken to pay the applicant 12 000 euro to cover any pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage inflicted to Rzhavin by the infringement of his rights. The payment will constitute the final resolution of the case.

The ECtHR decision is final and has entered into force. This means that the given sum is to be paid to Mr. Rzhavin within three months. Otherwise the Court has the right to resume the proceedings.  

You may remember that late at night on 17 December 2001 pensioner Rzhavin was forced to go to the Zarechny police-station in Yoshkar-Ola to give some explanations. He was taken outside barefoot and dressed in skivvies in December. He had to take a taxi to get back home. The pensioner was never indicted.

Mr. Rzhavin applied to Regional NGO “Man and Law” (Mariy El) and later – to the Mariy El representation of the Interregional Committee Against Torture asking for help. Besides, he filed an application to the Prosecutor’s Office.  However the Yoshkar-Ola Prosecutor’s Office appeared incapable of protecting the pensioner’s rights. The investigation authorities issued several unlawful refusals to initiate a criminal case that were cancelled by Mariy El courts. But that did not help. The prosecutorial checks lasted for 6 years and finally the investigation came to a dead-end.

 Thus, Mr. Rzhavin had nothing else to do but apply to the European Court of Human Rights. In 2007 the ICAT filed an application to the Strasbourg Court. In spring the court started examining the merits of the application and asked the Russian Government a series of questions. Having learnt the position of the Government, the Committee was agreeably surprised by the fact that Russia had acknowledged breaches of Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention and proposed a friendly settlement to the applicant for the sum of 12 000 euro. This information was contained in the Memorandum of Russian Human Rights Commissioner in the European Court of Human Rights, deputy Russian Minister of Justice G.O. Matyuhkin. It should be noted that Russia has on the international level acknowledged that Mr. Rzhavin was subject to inhuman treatment, unlawfully deprived of liberty, and the investigation authorities under the prosecutor’s office did not carry out an adequate investigation.

On November 25, 2010 Boris Rzhavin agreed to waive any further claims against Russia and concluded a friendly settlement agreement with the state. 

Photo: Boris Rzhavin is signing a friendly settlement agreement with the Russian Federation. 

The same day in the Yoshkar-Ola Prosecutor’s Office there was a joint press-conference of the Interregional Committee Against Torture and Yoshkar-Ola prosecutor devoted to that event. During the press-conference, Yoshkar-Ola prosecutor Sergey Skvortsov confirmed that for several years the investigation authorities had been blatantly delaying the investigation under the case.  Besides, Mr. Skvortsov stated that he had already sent official apologies to Mr. Rzhavin on behalf of the city prosecutor’s office. The document was presented to mass media.

Unlike the prosecutorial authority, representatives of the Republican Ministry of the Interior were unable to admit their mistake.  The Minister of Internal Affairs refused to apologize to the victim on behalf of the Ministry. Moreover on 29 November the Ministry published a press-release on its web-page saying that the Committee Against Torture “had failed to provide all facts of the case and had given them a one-sided assessment”. The press-release published by the Ministry stressed that “at that moment there was no European Court judgment under Rzhavin’s application”. On those grounds the heads of the Mariy El Ministry of the Interior once again refused to offer their apology to Mr. Rzhavin.

Although the Mariy El Minister has done his best for Russia to lose one more case in the ECtHR, the Russian Government has managed to cope with the situation and concluded a friendly settlement agreement with the pensioner.  

Now there is a corresponding decision. The state has to pay the compensation of half a million rubles from the federal budget.

 Here you can read the translation of the ECtHR decision. Here you can find the facts of the case and questions asked by the Court to the Government.

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