Tracking cookies

To make our website even easier and more personal, we use cookies (and similar techniques). With these cookies we and third parties can collect information about you and monitor your internet behavior within (and possibly also outside) our website. If you agree with this, we will place these tracking cookies.

Yes, I give permissionNo thanks
{aantal_resultaten} Resultaten
Human rights

The ECtHR has awarded 354,000 euros in damages to Russian victims of the security forces. Does it make sense? Anna Kudinova, human rights lawyer, tells us


In October 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) decided to pay €354,000 in moral damages to 11 Russian victims of torture by the siloviki. However, Putin signed the law on the non-enforcement of ECHR rulings back in June, didn't he? Anna Kudinova, a human rights lawyer and former ECtHR lawyer, explains.

Since 16 September 2022, the Russian Federation is no longer a party to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, better known as the European Convention on Human Rights. This means that there is no longer any possibility of lodging complaints with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) against the actions of the authorities in Russia.

Besides, back in June, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law on the non-enforcement of ECtHR judgments issued after 15 March 2022. The Council of Europe reported that Russia owes some €74 million in just compensation under ECtHR judgments, not including a record €1.9 billion in favour of former Yukos shareholders. The total amount that the court awarded to applicants against Russia was €2.02bn.

Nevertheless, ECtHR jurisprudence has had an important impact on human rights in Russia: Transnistria, Georgia, Nord-Ost, Beslan, detention conditions, torture in police stations, mass evictions, freedom of speech, rallies... Thousands of rulings that have enabled claimants to obtain compensation; new laws have even been passed that meet convention standards.

But perhaps the most important loss is the hope for justice and for the authorities to be held at least somewhat accountable.

One can speculate about what the end of Russia's participation in the European Convention will mean in the coming months and even years, but as a lawyer it is practice that matters to me - and this is how things stand in the real world.

I'll start with the bad news:

- There is the inability to bring complaints against the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). It is important to understand that this is not just about Russian citizens. Complaints against the actions or omissions of the Russian authorities could be filed by citizens of any country, stateless persons etc. This is particularly relevant now as the war in Ukraine has resulted in many human rights violations being committed outside Russia.

- The inability to request interim measures. These are preliminary injunctions that have been used in exceptional and often urgent cases such as deportation or extradition.

- Inability to obtain payment under rulings. Yes, unfortunately, Russian authorities have refused to pay the compensation awarded by the European Court of Justice after 15 March 2022.

But, as they say, hope dies last and here is the good news:

- It is still possible to file complaints against the actions or omissions of the Russian authorities if the events took place before 16 September 2022. Yes, the European Court reserves competence to consider such complaints.

However, there are several nuances. Firstly, the ECtHR did not specify '16 September' inclusive or not. Secondly, it is important not to miss the 4-month deadline for lodging an appeal.

For example, if the event (violation) occurred before 16 September 2022 and there is no possibility of appeal, the deadline is counted from the date of the event. If the violation is continuing, for example the conditions of detention, applicants have until 16 January 2023.

Finally, if there is a possibility to appeal the violation to the Russian courts, applicants have 4 months after the final judgment. Note that it is important to know the practice of the ECtHR in order to understand which violations need to be appealed to the courts and which judgment is considered final within the meaning of the Convention.

Thus, the submission of complaints to the ECHR against the Russian Federation did not stop on 16 September 2022.

In October 2022, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered a payment of €354,000 in moral damages to 11 Russian victims of torture by security forces. This was reported on the website of the court itself.

The applicants in question are from eight regions of Russia - Moscow (Matrosskaya Tishina SIZO-1), Kabardino-Balkaria, Udmurtia, Dagestan, Krasnodar Region, Voronezh, Orenburg and Vladimir Regions.

The ECtHR awarded the largest payment (55,000 euros) to Sultankhan Ibragimov, a resident of Makhachkala, who was acquitted on charges of two murders. According to the Caucasian Knot portal, the man was detained in 2016 and forced to confess to the crimes under torture.

Where else to turn:

Even if ECtHR judgments are no longer valid in the Russian Federation, it is always possible to submit individual communications to UN Committees. Thus, citizens of any country, stateless persons, etc. can submit communications (complaints) against the Russian Federation to, for example, the following Committees:

  •     Human Rights Committee
  •     Committee against Torture
  •     The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
  •     Committee against Racial Discrimination

The first definite advantage of the UN Committees is the longer timeframe for submitting a communication (complaint), as opposed to the 4-month timeframe at the ECtHR. This allows victims to better prepare themselves and collect all the necessary documents. In addition, if you miss the deadline for submitting a complaint to the ECtHR or the ECtHR rejects your complaint due to non-compliance with the deadline, you can appeal to the UN Committees.

The second advantage is that you can file by e-mail, whereas the ECtHR requires you to send your complaint by regular mail. Sanctions and hostilities have shown the vulnerability of regular mail, even the ECtHR has admitted this, but has not changed its requirements, which makes it difficult to file complaints, so it is easier to go to the UN Committees.

A third advantage is that if the victim of a violation cannot send a communication directly to the UN Committees, a representative or a close relative can do it instead. This is more difficult at the ECtHR...  

However, there are some disadvantages: the lengthy timeframes for dealing with communications and the non-binding nature of the UN Committees' decisions.

Additionally, here, as a former ECtHR lawyer, I can note the following: there are quite a few cases pending at the European Court, which are 10, sometimes even 15 years old... And as for compulsion, in principle, it cannot exist in public international law, because, in fact, everything is based on voluntariness and no one can force a state to implement a decision. A striking example of this is the "binding" nature of ECtHR judgments, which Russia does not comply with.

To sum up, all is not lost at the moment and there are still ways of protecting rights at the international level.

Yes, there may be difficulties with enforcement, but it is better to have a decision of an international body in your favour than not to have one. Sooner or later, you will have to execute the decision and by that time, you will pay a big fine for not doing it in time...

Author: Anna Kudinova, human rights lawyer, former ECtHR lawyer

Hot topic

"I didn’t want to become an orc. How could I stay?". An interview on the border between Georgia and Russia

Beyond the rainbow.  LGBT refugees in Europe. Documentary by Nikita Loyk
LGBTQ/the Netherlands

Beyond the rainbow. LGBT refugees in Europe. Documentary by Nikita Loyk