Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) 20958/14

Ukraine vs Russia

The Government of Ukraine filed the first inter-State application against the Russian Federation with the European Court of Human Rights pursuant to Article 33 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in connection with the negative developments in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea since the end of February 2014.

In particular, the application of the Government of Ukraine covers violations of complaints of human rights guaranteed by Articles 2 (Right to life), 3 (Prohibition of torture), 5 (Right to liberty and security), 6 (Right to a fair trial), 8 (Right to respect for private and family life), 9 (Freedom of thought, conscience and religion), 10 (Freedom of expression), 11 (Freedom of association) of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (hereinafter referred to as the Convention), Article 14 (Prohibition of discrimination) of the Convention in conjunction with Articles 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11 of the Convention, Article 18 (Limitation on use of restrictions on rights) in conjunction with Article 6 of the Convention and Articles 1 (Protection of property), 2 (Right to education) and 3 (Right to free elections) of the First Protocol to the Convention, Article 2 (Freedom of movement) of the Fourth Protocol to the Convention, Article 1 (General prohibition of discrimination) of the Twelfth Protocol to the Convention.

The main objective of the Government of Ukraine

The main objective of the Government of Ukraine is to prove the fact of effective control of the RF over a part of the territory of Ukraine and to protect violated human rights in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.

Status:

The decision of the ECHR on the admissibility of the inter-State case Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) No. 20958/14 is expected in 2020-2021. After decision on the admissibility of the case, the ECHR will proceed to consider the merits of the case, and the Government of Ukraine will present its position on the direct violations of human rights by the RF in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.

Timeline

  • 2019
  • 2018
  • 2017
  • 2016
  • 2014

11 September

The public hearings were held on the admissibility of the inter-State case Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) No. 20958/14 in the ECHR in Strasbourg (the French Republic).

The position of the Government of the Russian Federation was as follows:

  1. Ukraine's statement is political and does not concern human rights violations. The Russian delegation stated the unacceptability of the definition of ‘effective control’ applying the precedent of the case “Ilaşcu and others v. Moldova and Russia” (No. 48787/99 dated 08 July 2004).
  2. RF troops were located on the territory of Ukraine legally, in accordance with bilateral agreements on the Status and Conditions of the Presence of the Russian Federation Black Sea Fleet on the territory of Ukraine.
  3. Ukraine exercised ‘effective control’ over Crimea until 18 March 2014. Russia's jurisdiction over the Crimean peninsula, which ‘legally joined’ it as a result of the so-called ‘referendum’ to which Russia had nothing to do, arose after 18 March 2014.
  4. Regarding human rights violations, RF officials claimed that Ukraine had not provided any reliable evidence of numerous human rights violations in Crimea since that date. At the same time, the Russian delegation disputed the reports of international organizations and monitoring missions provided by Ukraine, including the report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and testimonies provided by affected Ukrainian citizens, which in their opinion were unreliable. Most of the evidence provided by Ukraine are minor and aimed at disseminating its political propaganda.
  5. Representatives of the Russian Federation claimed that Ukraine also failed to prove the existence of ‘administrative practice’ of human rights violations in Crimea by Russia, which is necessary to declare the case admissible, and Ukraine's evidence did not prove any connection between violations, but only focused on isolated cases. It was also alleged that the organizations cited by Ukraine were unreliable and biased, as they were funded by Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

As a result, the Russian delegation argued that Ukraine had not complied with the admissibility conditions set out in the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the Convention), and that the inter-State application had been submitted to the Court solely for political reasons and not for protection of human rights and freedoms.

The position of the Government of Ukraine:

  1. The Government of Ukraine has shown that its inter-State application concerns events falling within the jurisdiction of the Government of the Russian Federation and that the Court has the jurisdiction to consider the case.
  2. The Russian Federation has been exercising effective control over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea (hereinafter referred to as the ARC) since 27 February 2014, when the legitimate government of the ARC was abolished and replaced by an administration totally controlled by the Russian Federation. The further referendum held on 16 March 2014 is illegitimate and cannot be the basis for any change in the status of the ARC.
  3. There were provided the evidence of administrative practices of human rights violations by the Russian Federation, expressed in systematic violations of human rights by Russian representatives or paramilitary groups in the ARC. The violations were committed against opponents of the Russian occupation, ethnic Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars at least since 27 February 2014.
  4. Given the existence of administrative practice, the requirement of exhaustion of domestic remedies does not apply.

As a result, the Government of Ukraine proved that the jurisdiction of the Russian Federation in the ARC since 27 February 2014 is based on effective control. The ‘administrative practice’ of human rights violations has continued unchanged since this period. At the same time, the objective of the inter-State application is to establish the jurisdiction of the Court, the existence of systematic violations of human rights, stop then and prevent their recurrence.

15 May

The ECHR informed Ukraine about the new date of the public hearings in the case Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) No. 20958/14, namely 11 September 2019.

08 February

The ECHR notified the Governments of Ukraine and the Russian Federation about the postponing of the public hearings due to the need for more detailed preparation of the Court for the hearings.

05 February

The ECHR notified the Governments of Ukraine and the Russian Federation about the postponing of the public hearings due to the need for more detailed preparation of the Court for the hearings.

Video

Ukraine vs. Russia: Hearings on Crimean Case Held in ECHR
Ukraine vs. Russia: Hearings on Crimean Case Held in ECHR
Hearing of the Grand Chamber in Ukraine vs. Russia (concerning Crimea)
Hearing of the Grand Chamber in Ukraine vs. Russia (concerning Crimea)

31 December

The Government of Ukraine sent to the European Court the position of the state regarding public hearings.

21 September

On 21 September 2018, the ECHR informed Ukraine about the holding of public hearings in the case regarding the temporarily occupied territory of Crimea – Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) No. 20958/14. A public hearing was scheduled for 27 February 2019 at the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg, the French Republic).

21 June

The ECHR notified the Government of Ukraine of the consolidation of the filed inter-State cases against the Government of the Russian Federation into two instead of four according to geographical criteria, namely:

  • two inter-State cases regarding Crimea (Ukraine v. Russia No. 20958/14 and Ukraine v. Russia (IV) No. 42410/15) – into Ukraine v. Russia (re Crimea) No. 20958/14 regarding the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
  • two inter-State cases regarding the events in Donbas (Ukraine v. Russia (V) No. 8019/16 and Ukraine v. Russia (VI) No. 70856/16) – into Ukraine v. Russia (re Eastern Ukraine) No. 8019/16 concerning the events in Donbass.

23 March

Ukraine provided its comments on the case Ukraine v. Russia No. 20958/14 in response to the argument of the RF.

In support of its claim, Ukraine provided a significant body of evidence, including:

  1. evidence of Russia's preparations for aggression against Ukraine at least 2013;
  2. files that demonstrate the organization of pro-Russian rallies in the territory of the Crimea by the RF;
  3. files on the hidden military buildup by the RF by increasing the numerical strength of the Russian Black Sea Fleet and military armaments, including the transfer of units not covered by the conditions of agreements as to the Russian Black Sea Fleet's basing on the territory of Ukraine;

Note: it was established that during the seizure of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by Russia, more than 10,000 personnel were transferred there. In particular, as of 01 January 2014, there were 10,936 Russian servicemen on the peninsula, and as of 18 March 2014 - more than 22,000 servicemen. The increase in the military involvement of the Russian Federation was carried out by air (IL-76, AN-124 aircraft) and sea (Large Landing Ships (LLS) of the Black Sea Fleet, the Northern Fleet and the Baltic Fleet of the RF). The forces for the seizure of Crimea consisted of the 810th Separate Marine Brigade of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation and separate units of the RF Armed Forces, whose stay on the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea is prohibited.

  1. information on illegal crossing of the state border of Ukraine by personnel and military equipment of the Russian Federation;
  2. data on the blocking of transport communications and connections of the Crimean Peninsula with mainland Ukraine by Russian units since the end of February 2014;
  3. detailed information with evidence of blocking and seizure of military facilities and government agencies by units of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation and special units of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation since the 20th- of February 2014;
  4. data on the RF officials, who directly coordinated the actions of Russian military units to seize military facilities and state institutions of Ukraine in Crimea, including:
    • Army General Shoygu, S.K., Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation, General of the Army;
    • Pankov, N.A. and Bulgakov, D.V., Deputy Ministers of Defence of the Russian Federation;
    • General of the Army Gerasimov, V.V., Chief of the General Staff of the RF Armed Forces – First Deputy Minister of Defence of the Russian Federation;
    • Vice-Admiral of the Russian Federation Fedotenkov, A.N., Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Navy of the RF Armed Forces;
    • Lieutenant General Turchenyuk, I.N., Deputy Commander of the Southern Military Command of the RF Armed Forces;
    • Admiral Vitko A.V., Commander of the Black Sea Fleet of the RF Armed Forces;
    • Major General Ostrikov A.L., Chief of the Coastal Troops BSF troops of the Black Sea Fleet of the RF;
  5.  testimony of eyewitnesses of the occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the RF in February-March 2014 (in particular, regarding the seizure of military units, persecution of pro-Ukrainian activists) and of persons captured and tortured by members of Russian intelligence services (50 witnesses);

Note: up to 40 people were held captive by the so-called "self-defense" forces and the Russian military servicemen. Main places of detention and torture: the premises of Republican Military Commissariat (Simferopol), which was seized on 8 March 2014, and premises of military prison of the Black Sea Fleet of the RF (Sevastopol)

  1. photo and video files, which directly recorded facts of occupation the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol by the RF;
  2. detailed course of events of seizure of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and seizure of military and civilian facilities by the RF.

On May 9, 2018, the ECHR decided to transfer the inter-State cases of Ukraine v. Russia to the Grand Chamber.

12 February

The ECHR communicated to Ukraine a comments of the Government of the Russian Federation on the admissibility of case No. 20958/14. The position of the respondent limited to allegations of ‘legal entry’ of ‘the Republic of Crimea’ into the Russian Federation following the results of the ‘referendum’ held on 16 March 2014 in Crimea. With regard to human rights violations in the territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions not controlled by Ukraine, the Government of the RF denied any involvement of Russia in the events in Eastern Ukraine.

At the same time, the ECHR informed the Government of Ukraine about the decision to divide the inter-State case Ukraine v. Russia into separate cases (according to geographical criteria), namely:

  1. Ukraine v. Russia No. 20958/14 concerning complaints regarding events in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea;
  2. Ukraine v. Russia No. 8019/16 concerning complaints regarding events in Eastern Ukraine.

13 March

The Government of Ukraine filed the first inter-State application against the Russian Federation with the European Court of Human Rights pursuant to Article 33 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in connection with the negative developments in the Autonomous Republic of Crimea since the end of February 2014.

On the same day, the ECHR accepted the application and the case Ukraine v. Russia was registered under No. 20958/14, giving it priority status in accordance with Article 41 of the Rules of ECHR.

Given the further negative developments, including the situation in Eastern Ukraine, this inter-State application was supplemented by new facts of violations by Russia of the provisions of the Convention during 2014, in particular:

  • On June 12, 2014, the Government of Ukraine sent an amendment to the inter-State case to the ECHR on further violations of human rights in Crimea after March 2014, and also claimed human rights violations in the uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions. At the same time, the Government of Ukraine filed complaints under Article 1 of the First Protocol to the Convention in connection with the ‘nationalization’ of state property located in the territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
  • On November 20, 2014, the Government of Ukraine sent another amendment to the inter-State application on further violations of human rights by the Russian Federation in the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol and uncontrolled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions to the ECHR.

On November 25, 2014, ECHR sent the case Ukraine v. Russia to the Government of the RF indicating 25 March 2015 as the time limit to submit comments on its admissibility. During 2015, the Government of the RF has repeatedly appealed to the ECHR with the request for additional time for submission of the respondent comments on the admissibility of the inter-State application Ukraine v. Russia.

Video

Video of the capture of the ARC Parliament 26-27.02.2014
Video of the capture of the ARC Parliament 26-27.02.2014

Video

All videos
Video of the capture of the ARC Parliament 26-27.02.2014
Video of the capture of the ARC Parliament 26-27.02.2014
26.02.2014
Hearing of the Grand Chamber in Ukraine vs. Russia (concerning Crimea)
Hearing of the Grand Chamber in Ukraine vs. Russia (concerning Crimea)
11.09.2019
Ukraine vs. Russia: Hearings on Crimean Case Held in ECHR
Ukraine vs. Russia: Hearings on Crimean Case Held in ECHR
11.09.2019

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