Ukraine v. Russia (VII) №38334/18
Ukraine vs Russia
This inter-State application concerns violations of the rights of 71 Ukrainian citizens who were/are being illegally detained in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the territory of the Russian Federation. This demonstrates gross and systematic violations of international law by the Russian Federation.
The inter-State application covers complaints of the Government of Ukraine on human rights violations guaranteed by the following articles: 3 (Prohibition of torture), 5 (Right to liberty and security), 6 (Right to a fair trial), 7 (No punishment without law), 8 (Right to respect for private and family life), 10 (Freedom of expression), 11 (Freedom of association), 18 (Limitation on use of restrictions on rights) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The cases of these citizens are characterized by gross violations of the rights guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
For example, the application contains the facts of illegal detention and imprisonment of 71 citizens of Ukraine who were/are being detained in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the territory of the Russian Federation.
Illegally detained citizens of Ukraine are subjected to severe torture and psychological pressure in order to confess to crimes they did not commit. Convicts are also subjected to cruel and degrading treatment in penitentiaries. Health of some of the convicts and detainees has deteriorated significantly, and sometimes even critically, due to inadequate conditions of detention and failure of the Russian authorities to provide them with adequate medical care.
In many cases, the Russian authorities do not notify Ukraine about the detention of its citizens and do not notify relatives of the detainees thereof as well. Often, neither representatives of the Ukrainian consulate nor lawyers hired by relatives do not have access to detainees for months. In fact, Ukrainian citizens are being held in complete isolation during the investigation.
The Russian Federation refuses to transfer some detainees to the territory of Ukraine to serve their sentences, legally treating them as Russian citizens, despite the fact that they have Ukrainian citizenship.
These cases were conditionally divided into those concerning the persecution of Ukrainian citizens in the occupied Crimea and those concerning the persecution of Ukrainian citizens in Russia.
The cases concerning the Crimea include the following:
- Cases concerning the persecution of Crimean Tatars. After the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by the Russian Federation, mass searches and arrests of Crimean Tatars and Muslims began in the territory of the peninsula:
- The so-called “The Case of 26 February” concerns the holding of a peaceful rally in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine, organized by the Mejlis, near the building of the Verkhovna Rada of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea on 26 February 2014. The Russian authorities described them as ‘mass riots’, which led to criminal prosecution of the participants;
- persecution of members of the Islam organization Hizb ut-Tahrir,whose activities are recognized as extremist in the Russian Federation and at the same time allowed in most countries of the world including Ukraine. The members of the organization are accused of terrorism, despite the fact that no member of the organization has been involved in any terrorist act to date. The application contains a number of cases concerning illegal searches and detentions of Crimean Muslims in connection with the persecution of members of the organization;
- “The Case of Vedzhiie Kashka.” In 2017, the occupation authorities conducted another series of searches and detentions in the houses of Crimean Tatar activists. As a result of the brutal actions of the Federal Security Service officers during the illegal search and detention of Vedzhiie Kashka, an 83-year-old veteran of the Crimean Tatar movement in Crimea, felt bad and died in an ambulance;
- Cases of persecution and imprisonment of Euromaidan activists. The most striking example of such persecution is the case of Volodymyr Balukh, who was persecuted by the Russian authorities for openly supporting Ukraine. Some of these cases concern persons convicted in the territory of the Russian Federation for acts allegedly committed in the territory of Ukraine during the Revolution of Dignity;
- Condemnation of Ukrainian citizens for publications and comments on the Internet criticizing the annexation of Crimea and Russia's armed aggression in eastern Ukraine and supporting the territorial integrity of Ukraine. In most cases, such individuals were accused of extremism and incitement to hatred;
- The so-called “Ukrainian Saboteurs”. This is a group of Ukrainian citizens who have been detained by Russian law enforcement agencies at various times and have been forced to confess to the sabotage activities they have been accused of under torture or threats. Russian authorities have accused them of trying to undermine the economic security and defense capabilities of the Russian Federation and of preparing anti-Russian rallies in the Crimean peninsula.
The cases of persecution of Ukrainians in the Russian Federation include the following:
- "The Chechen Case." It concerns Ukrainian citizens who were detained in Russia in 2014 and convicted of participating in the First Chechen War on the side of Chechen separatists on the basis of completely fabricated evidence. The detainees were isolated from the outside world for more than a year and did not have access to lawyers hired by their relatives. They were forced to confess to the crimes they were accused of after brutal torture, which included the use of electric shock and psychotropic drugs, as well as threats;
- The Crimean Four case: the case concerning Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko, Hennadii Afanasiev and Oleksii Chernii, who were convicted on terrorism charges. Oleh Sentsov, Oleksandr Kolchenko and Hennadii Afanasiev were subjected to severe torture and psychological pressure by Russian law enforcement agencies;
- Persecution of members of the Right Sector, which is recognized as an extremist organization under Russian law. Citizens of Ukraine were accused of or convicted for their membership in the Right Sector organization and for actions committed on the territory of Ukraine as members of this organization;
- Ukrainian citizens’ accusations of espionage. One such convict was Yurii Soloshenko, who was 73 years old at the time of sentencing;
- The case of Roman Sushchenko is an example of the persecution of journalists. He was charged of espionage and sentenced to 12 years in prison;
- The application also included the case of Pavlo Hryb, who was abducted by the Federal Security Service in the territory of the Republic of Belarus.
The ECHR suggested the Government of Ukraine to provide updated information by 03 January 2020, in particular on the health condition of one of the political prisoners.
The Government of Ukraine notified the ECHR about the release of 2 persons mentioned in the application as a result of negotiations with the RF on 7 September 2019.
The ECHR confirmed the receipt of the application of the Government of Ukraine, registering it under No. 38334/18 with the title “Ukraine v. Russia (VII)”.
The Government of Ukraine filed the inter-State application against the Government of the Russian Federation with the ECHR regarding gross and systematic violations of the rights of Ukrainian citizens illegally detained and persecuted in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Russian Federation (hereinafter referred to as the inter-State application “Ukraine v. Russia (VII)” No. 38334/18).