Excluding Russia from the Council of Europe exposes thousands of Russian citizens to heightened oppression

This date remains inscribed in the history of the European continent. At 1:37 pm on Wednesday, March 16th, the Russian flag was dropped from the mast in the front yard of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg (Baran). On the same day, the agency guaranteeing the rule of law on the continent officially excluded Russia because it invaded Ukraine three weeks ago. Immediate results: Its judicial body, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), has announced that it will suspend the review of its requests regarding Moscow.

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This historic divorce puts an end to the 26-year partnership. To anticipate snabs, Russia announced last Friday that it intends to close the door of the organization anyway. “Due to the anti-Russian activity of the Westerners, this structure has lost its raison d’etre.”Justified Russian diplomatic spokesman Maria Zakharova in a press release. And to add about this exile: “It doesn’t change anything fundamentally to us. It just exempts us from respecting the procedures and residual obligations imposed on us.”

This exit is now raising the threat of deterioration of Russia’s human rights situation, which has already been regularly pointed out by international organizations. In fact, 145 million Russians will not be able to benefit from the protection of the ECHR, which is precisely responsible for ensuring compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights by Member States.

In an interview with an independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta (In Russian)Karinna Moskalenko, a lawyer representing many opponents of the pre-ECHR administration, explains that the new case could be given a six-month period. This allows Russian citizens whose rights have been infringed to appeal to court until September 15. Amnesty in light of the tightening of Russian law that allowed criticisms of the war in Ukraine to be punished with 15 years in prison.

However, this delay issue has not been resolved. It is only the future of Russian proceedings already underway before the ECHR, or the proceedings that may be brought to a European proceeding due to the facts before the council’s exclusion of Russia. A meeting on this subject is underway.

“We are all a little surprised at this decision.”

ECHR members

on franceinfo

This is the second time an institution has faced such a scenario. Greece also left the council before being expelled from the council in 1969 under the colonel’s dictatorship.

As GrĂ©gory Thuan, a criminal lawyer in Strathbourg, reminds franceinfo, a big problem remains. In certain cases, the presence of a judge in the country to which the complaint is made is required. “complicated” Investigated by several security judges’ rooms. Will Judge Mikhail Robov, recently elected to the ECHR to represent the Russian Federation, continue to sit there? There is nothing for sure.

Therefore, many files are in a dormant state, such as media incidents involving opponents Alexei Navalny and Nikolai Kobryakov. The French political refugee, president of the Russian Liberty’s Association, has challenged Russia’s six-year prison sentence for justice. “I will introduce the request before ECHR and see what it answers.”Settle his lawyer, Gregory Tuan.

Karinna Moskalenko says she’s ready. Novaya GazetaTo file a complaint with the United Nations Commission on Human Rights (HRC), “To some extent, a quasi-judicial body that can replace the ECHR for Russians”.. However, in the opinion of his colleague Oleksandr Ovchynnykov, a lawyer in a bar in Strasbourg was contacted by franceinfo. “The UN mechanism is different, inefficient and not easy to access.”..

Moscow has been the main “provider” of the previous ECHR incident. Of the 70,000 cases pending in court, nearly a quarter (24.2%) are related to Russian cases, according to figures reported by the jurisdiction in January. So does the ECHR decision have any effect? “Unfortunately, our judges do not respect Strasbourg’s decision, so the ECHR’s decision has little effect.”,regret world Zoya Svetova, journalist and human rights activist. Every day, since joining the Council of Europe in 1996, Russia has fully enforced only 38% of the court’s rulings against it.

Nevertheless, Gregory Tuan said that this client “Russian high security prison”He got “Relief of imprisonment”.. Oleksandr Ovchynnykov mentions the monetary damages obtained by the applicant and emphasizes that the ECHR case law has changed. “The issue of non-execution of court decisions or the length of proceedings” In Russia.

“The withdrawal from the Council of Europe is so serious that it is very damaging because Russia realized that it had no real control. All locks were unlocked.”

Gregory Tuan, Lawyer

on franceinfo

This did not escape the administration.Former President and Chairman of the Security Council of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, has decided to leave the Council of Europe “Opportunity” Revive the death penalty in Russia.

The Council of Europe must also be defeated by Russia’s withdrawal. Financially first, because Russia contributes almost 7% to its annual budget. But even with legal issues. “When I make a request to France, I quote the case law against Russia, because all the court’s decisions are against Member States.Explains Strasbourg lawyer Julien Martin to France Amfo. It’s a dialogue we no longer have. Everyone will be punished. “ This dialogue may probably resume someday, the Council of Europe doors are not completely closed. Greece thus revived him in 1974, five years after his departure.