The Case of Dmitrievsky: the Russian Federation has given its answers to the questions of the European Court


13 June 2007

  Today vice-chairman of the NN Committee Against Torture Olga Sadovskaya, who is the representative of Stanislav Dmitrievsky in the European Court, has received a memo of the RF Commissioner in the European Court Ms. Viktoria Milinchuk concerning the complaint no. 42168/06 Dmitrievsky v. Russia.

     You may remember that on 3 February 2006 the Sovetsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod in violation of Articles 6 and 10 of the European Convention found Stanislav Dmitrievsky guilty of the crime under Article 282 §2 (б) of the RF Criminal Code and sentenced him to two years’ conditional imprisonment on four years’ probation. In this connection a complaint was submitted to the European Court which was communicated in a very short period of time due to skilful work of the applicant’s representative.   According to the letter forwarded by the Registry to the RF Commissioner in the Court, the Russian Federation was to answer several simple questions of the Court: 

    Was the applicant’s punishment for the publication of the statements of Akhmed Zakaev and Aslan Maskhadov in the Pravozaschita newspaper justified in the understanding of Article 10 §2 of the European Convention? In particular, was it prescribed by law? If so, did the punishment pursue a lawful purpose? If so, was it necessary in a democratic society?

   And also, was the trial in respect of the applicant fair in the understanding of Article 6 §1 of the European Convention?

   The Russian Federation acknowledged that it had interfered with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression, stipulated by Article 10 §1 of the European Convention, but the interference, according to the Russian authorities had been done as prescribed by law, had pursued a lawful purpose and had been necessary in a democratic society. The Russian authorities also emphasized that the legal proceedings against Mr. Dmitrievsky had been fair and in compliance with Article 6 of the Convention. Unfortunately, the representative of the responding State did not produce any forcible arguments and referred to well-known facts stating that there are Articles 51 and 59 of the RF Statute “On Mass Media”, and Article 282 of the RF Criminal Code and if the applicant had been found guilty as a violator of these articles then the sentence was perfectly grounded.

    Concerning the applicant’s complaints about the violation of Article 6 §2 of the Convention in his respect, the RF Representative in the European Court observed that the domestic court had had reasons to give credence to the testimony of expert L.Yu. Teslenko and at the same time it had had no reason to give credence to the testimony of another independent expert G.P. Vronskaya and that is why the court had been quite critical about this evidence. The evidence given by Ms. Teslenko underlay the sentence against the applicant. As for the arguments of the applicant and his representative concerning the distortions in the court records, these, according to Ms. Milinchuk, were not proved during the inquiry by way of procedure under Article 144 of the RF Criminal Procedure Code, in spite of the absolute difference between the sound image of the proceedings and of the courts records, submitted to the European Court by the applicant’s representative.

    Besides, the Russian Federation was very negative about the possibility of joint examination of the admissibility and merits. The RF Representative asserts that this rule is applicable to cases of the same type, so-called “clone-cases”. The Russian authorities has drawn the Court’s attention to the fact that the case of Dmitrievsky was not a typical one and that is why the admissibility should be examined separately form the merits. It seems that Ms. Milinchuk, the Representative of the Russian Federation in the European Court missed the circumstance that this rule is applicable not only to clone-cases, but also to other cases which are examined by the Court.

    Ms. Sadovskaya, the representative of Stanislav Dmitrievsky in the European Court plans to have submitted the reply to the memo of the Russian Federation by 14 august 2007, in accordance with the Rules of Court. The applicant and his representative consider it impossible to resort to friendly-settlement negotiations and will insist on the oral procedure.

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