“Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny should be released from jail immediately because of the risk to his life.” – ECHR
Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny should be released from jail immediately because of the risk to his life, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled.
Russia says it will ignore the ruling, which it calls a ‘blatant and gross interference’ in its affairs.
Navalny was detained on his return to Russia last month following treatment for a nerve agent poisoning in Siberia. He was then given a jail term.
In a ruling published on Wednesday, the Strasbourg-based court granted Navalny a temporary release from jail because it said the government “could not provide sufficient safeguards for his life and health”.
Russia has said it will ignore the ruling despite a requirement to comply as a member of the Council of Europe, calling the court’s decision “a blatant and gross interference in the judicial affairs of a sovereign state”.
“Mr. Navalny’s current application before the Court was lodged on 20 January 2021 under Article 34
of the European Convention on Human Rights. On the same date, the applicant made a request to
the Court under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court related to his detention, asking for his release.
“On 21 January 2021, the Court decided to suspend the examination of the Rule 39 request until
receipt of the following information from the Government:
1. In view of the arguable allegation of a near-lethal attack on the applicant in August 2020 with the
use of chemical nerve agent, and the fact that the perpetrators had not been established by the
Russian authorities, did the risk to the applicant’s life persist?
2. If so, what measures were being taken by the Russian authorities to safeguard his life and wellbeing, in particular, while in custody?
3. Furthermore, were the conditions of detention and the treatment of the applicant subject to
regular independent monitoring in line with European standards?
“On 26 January 2021, the Government replied to the above questions, stating that the applicant was
being held in a properly guarded facility and that his cell was under video surveillance. They
described the material conditions in the cell and stated that the applicant had access to electronic
communications via the prison system. He was allowed to make phone calls and had been visited by
his lawyers and members of the public monitoring commission on several occasions.
“On 3 February 2021, the applicant submitted his comments to the Government’s reply. He contested
that the arrangements listed by the Government could not provide sufficient safeguards for his life
“On 16 February 2021, the Court decided to indicate to the Government of Russia, under Rule 39 of
the Rules of Court, to release the applicant. This measure shall apply with immediate effect. The
Court had regard to the nature and extent of risk to the applicant’s life, demonstrated prima facie
for the purposes of applying the interim measure, and seen in the light of the overall circumstances
of the applicant’s current detention. This measure has been granted without prejudice to the Court’s
decision on the merits of the present case and the competence of the Committee of Ministers,” the Court stated.
By Ana Dumbadze