On Thursday, 22 July, the Russian Federation filed the first-ever interstate lawsuit against Ukraine at the European Court of Human Rights.
According to the press service of the Prosecutor General’s Office of the Russian Federation, this complaint contains a number of grievances against Ukraine. In particular, Russia accuses Ukraine of:
– Responsibility for the deaths during the Revolution of Dignity on Independence Square in Kyiv, in the House of Trade Unions in Odesa on 2 May 2014, and during the Anti-Terrorist Operation in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
– Suppression of freedom of speech.
– Discrimination against the Russian-speaking population.
– Discrimination against Russian business.
– Deaths of people and destruction of property as a result of shelling of the territory adjacent to the Russian Federation.
– Deprivation of residents of certain areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of an opportunity to participate in elections to central authorities.
– Blockade of the North Crimean Canal.
– Attacks on Russian diplomatic missions in Ukraine.
– MH17 plane crash.
– Refusal to provide legal assistance to Russian investigative bodies.
In connection with filing the lawsuit, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation said that Russia expected “an impartial and non-politicised attitude of the ECHR to the Russian complaint, as well as a thorough examination of the files and evidence submitted by the plaintiff state.”
As a precautionary measure, Russia urges the ECHR to oblige Ukraine to immediately supply fresh water to Crimea and cease restrictions on the rights of national and linguistic minorities.
Meanwhile, the Office of the President of Ukraine responded to the complaint, calling it a standard of cynicism without legal prospects and practical meaning, except for a propagandist one.
According to the adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podoliak, the Russian leadership decided to use the tool of complaint to the European Court of Human Rights after it had secured itself an opportunity not to comply with the court’s decisions at the constitutional level.
In addition, Ukraine defends the position that the Russian Federation, as a state controlling the occupied territories of Ukraine, bears full responsibility for the situation in these territories.
It should be noted that since the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms entered into force in 1953, less than 30 interstate complaints have been filed at the ECHR. Four such complaints have been filed against Russia by Georgia and nine by Ukraine (regarding political assassinations, downing of MH17 in July 2014, human rights violations in the occupied Crimea, and seizure of Ukrainian warships in the Kerch Strait in 2018).
In January this year, the ECHR by a majority of votes declared Ukraine’s lawsuit against Russia over the annexation of Crimea partially acceptable and declared the readiness to consider it on the merits.
ECHR decisions are not binding in Russia.