'Strasbourg Get-Together' discusses the 'anti-orphan' law, the 'Bolotnaya' case and an issue of real estate

posted 2 Dec 2013, 08:07 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 2 Dec 2013, 09:05 ]
28 November 2013

Vera Vasilyeva, 28/11/2013

Source: HRO.org
On 27 November 2013 the so-called “Strasbourg Get-Together”, a round-table discussion, was held at the Independent Press Centre in Moscow. “Strasbourg Get-Togethers”, regularly organised by the International Protection Centre, bring together defence lawyers, applicants to the European Court of Human Rights, journalists and other interested individuals to talk about the latest news from European legal bodies.

This time the discussion focused on three main topics – the Russian orphans issue, the “Bolotnaya” case at the European Court of Human Rights, and the case of a woman who had bought a flat in Moscow in good faith – and the way these cases are viewed in Strasbourg.

The lawyer Karinna Moskalenko, project leader at the International Protection Centre and commissioner and member of the executive committee of the International Commission of Jurists, the IPC’s lawyer Valentina Bokareva and the journalist Viktoria Ivleva reported that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had communicated the applications of 32 US families who were barred from adopting Russian orphans after the “Dima Yakovlev law” came into force.

The ECtHR has requested that the Russian government report back by 8 February on what happened to the children whose adoption by the Americans was halted. Are they still in orphanages, are preparations under way for handing them to other families for adoption and, if so, what stage has the adoption process reached? Do any of these children need medical treatment that may only be available in the US? The Court has also asked for clarification as to whether the ban on adoptions is in conformity with the international agreement between Russia and the USA, which remains in effect for one year should either party withdraw. 

Left to right: Marina Zakharina, Mariya Samorodina, Viktoria Ivleva, Karinna Moskalenko, Valentina Bokareva. Photo: Vera Vasilyeva, HRO.org 

Viktoria Ivleva said the appellants have had no opportunity to communicate with the children and are kept in complete darkness as to their fate.

Karinna Moskalenko emphasized that the final court hearing at which the adoption process was to be completed should have been just the “last point and a pure formality” for the Americans. Couples that have established contact with a child and completed all the other procedures have, in effect, become their parents. Moskalenko pointed out that this clearly contravenes Article 3 (prohibition of torture), Article 8 (right to respect private and family life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The lawyers Vyacheslav Makarov, Dmitry Agranovsky and Valery Shukhardin reported on the stage that the “Bolotnaya” case has reached at the ECtHR.

“Having appealed to the European Court at the time when his client, Sergei Krivov, had been on hunger strike for 65 days and his life was in acute danger, Vyacheslav Makarov has succeeded in getting the ECtHR to communicate the application. He will now represent his client not only in Russian courts but also at the ECtHR,” Karinna Moskalenko said.

Vyacheslav Makarov said that the ECtHR had given the Russian authorities until 12:00 noon on 27 November 2013 to respond to questions relating to Sergei Krivov’s hunger strike and the medical treatment he received.

Makarov also said that the doctors from the ambulance service whom defence lawyers and the public had repeatedly called to the chamber of the Nikulinsky district court where the hearings were held, but whom Judge Nikishina and the court bailiffs prevented from entering, were willing to testify at the European Court. 

Svetlana Gladysheva. Photo Vera Vasilyeva, HRO.org 

The IPC’s lawyer, Dmitry Agranovsky, who has lodged the application, “V.G. Akimenkov and six others vs Russia”, with the ECtHR said that this trial is “disgraceful, pointless and merciless. It is absolutely plain to see that none of the people in the dock were involved in violence or with the organisation of the protest. These are totally random individuals who had come to a peaceful rally. I have a strong suspicion that someone wanted to disrupt Vladimir Putin’s inauguration. But it was neither Udal’tsov nor Razvozzhaev.” The ECtHR has directed a total of 25 questions to the Russian government relating to this application.

Valery Shukhardin, Mikhail Kosenko’s defence lawyer, informed those present that he intended to lodge an application with the ECtHR against the unlawful detention of his client, the inhuman and degrading treatment he had been subjected to, his unfair trial and “numerous other” legal violations.

The third case discussed at the “get-together” was that of “Gladysheva vs Russia”. The complainant was represented in Strasbourg by the Centre’s defence lawyer Mariya Samorodkina. The case concerns a single mother from Moscow, Svetlana Gladysheva, who bought a flat (which was not a new build) only to discover that an earlier privatisation of the property had involved some irregularities. The Cheremushki district court decided that the flat should be returned to the city authorities and that the woman with her child should be evicted.

The ECtHR ruled that since in Russia all real estate transactions require state registration, citizens should not suffer as a result of negligence on the part of officials who should have, but failed to, uncover the fraud.

Karinna Moskalenko stressed the significance of Svetlana Gladysheva’s ECtHR victory for other complainants (at this meeting alone three other cases were mentioned). 

Valentina Bokareva, Vyacheslav Makarov, Dmitry Agranovsky. Photo: Vera Vasilyeva, HRO.org

“All those defending their civil rights can now refer to this precedent. Our authorities shall bear responsibility for the decisions they take, the documents they draw up, the signatures they verify and for other decisions relating to civil rights issues.”

After their presentations the round table participants took questions from the audience.

Translated by Julia Sherwood