ECHR questions Russia over human rights activists’ complaint
MOSCOW, June 23 (RAPSI, Maria Zuyeva) – The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (ECHR) has sent questions to Russia concerning an application filed by human rights activists Lev Ponomaryov and Yevgeny Ikhlov over the Moscow authorities’ refusal to allow them to hold a small demonstration in a place of their choice, according to court records.
According to the ECHR, in March last year, the applicants and an unidentified person notified the authorities of Moscow’s central district of their intention to hold a small demonstration against “unconstitutional censorship” in the Novopushkinsky Garden. The authorities suggested that they hold their demonstration in Yauzskiye Vorota Square, claiming that an event was already planned for that day in the Novopushkinsky Garden.
Claiming to act as private individuals, the defendants requested that they be offered a different site for their event. Lev Ponomaryov sought assistance from a deputy mayor, signing the letter in his official capacity of executive director of the public movement Za Prava Cheloveka (For Human Rights). The Moscow authorities said that his request was denied because he was head of a human rights movement whose operation the Justice Ministry suspended in February 2014 until August of that year.
In March 2014, a court rejected the applicants’ complaint, saying that Ponomaryov filed it as a representative of a suspended organization.
The defendants appealed against that decision in the Moscow City Court, which scheduled a hearing for September 2014. Not long before the trial, Ikhlov asked the court to postpone the hearing because he was unwell, but did not provide corroborating medical documents.
The court rejected Ikhlov’s request as ungrounded and held the trial, which neither defendant attended, as scheduled. Ikhlov and Ponomaryov then appealed to the Presidium of the Moscow City Court with a complaint about the court hearing their case in their absence.
According to the case materials, the Presidium did not discuss their appeal because it was filed in violation of procedure. Ikhlov and Ponomaryov filed one more complaint, and were again told that they should file their complaint in accordance with the established procedure.
The defendants instead sent an application to the European Court of Human Rights, citing Article 10 (Freedom of expression) and Article 11 (Freedom of assembly and association) of the European Convention on Human Rights.