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