- Press Release No. 103/1246
Every year European Court of Human Rights receives loads of complaints from the Russian Federation. One can say that Russia is a constant "provider" of complaints to the ECtHR along with such countries as Turkey, Romania and Ukraine. By the end of 2008 the overall amount of complaints pending consideration by the ECtHR reached 97 300. 28% of those were the complaints against the Russian Federation... After many years of working with the parents of the deceased servicemen we know that there are a number of myths related to the European Court of Human Rights. Very often people consider "Strasbourg" as a "court of the fourth instance" that has the authority to easily cancel the decisions of any Russian court (court of first instance, court of appeals and reviewing authority) or to force Russian courts to re-consider their cases. Also many believe that the ECtHR will award huge compensations that will help to cover the cost of hiring an expensive lawyer who promised to arrange and file the complaint to the European Court of Human Rights (the cost of legal services involved in preparing and filing this kind of complaint can reach up to tens of thousands dollars). At the same time many do not realize that if the filed complaint is illegitimate it will be recognized as unacceptable and will not be considered by the court, while the amounts awarded by the court in case of a successful complaint are not that big. Moreover, appointment of the complaint for consideration by the European Court of Human Rights might take years. This is due to the fact that the ECtHR is virtually overloaded with the complaints and does not have the capacity to handle them on the spot.
Judging from the 20 years of the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation operations, we know that with the competent and adequate approach on the part of the applicants the amount of complaints submitted from the Russian Federation could and should be reduced. Firstly, there is no sense in submitting huge amounts of illegitimate complaints that will be rejected by the Court. However, handling such complaints by the ECtHR still requires time and resources, as those need to go through certain administrative procedures. And while the ECtHR waste their time on illegitimate complaints, there are a lot of complaints that are properly filed and are legitimate but are pending for years. Secondly, we strongly believe that it is more important to struggle for the opportunity of fair court consideration within the country - this is the more effective way to achieve positive changes in the work of the investigating authorities and the courts. Below are several examples of the successful cases that were lead by the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation in the recent years.
20 September 2007: the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation won a lawsuit for compensation for moral damage in favor of the mother of the deceased serviceman Galina A. Mineeva. Her son Ruslan Mineev (born 1983) was drafted into military service from Orenburg Oblast. He was to serve in the military unit No. 96722 (Samara). On 25 May 2004 he tragically died in the Chechen Republic in the military unit No. 23132, where his unit was sent. His death was the result of actions by the Chief of Engineering Service of the military unit No. 23132 Major S. N. Kudryavtsev. He decided to install four portable mine barriers (5 mines each) on wooden base at the check-points of the two military units: the military unit No. 23132 and the neighboring military unit No. 96722. As a result, together with Ruslan died 10 (!!!) other servicemen of the two military units. One survived but was seriously injured... Grozny Court ruled that actions of Major S. N. Kudrayvtsev should be considered as negligence (Article 193 Part 2 and 3), but he did not bear any criminal responsibility, as he was granted amnesty. The MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation demanded that the military unit should provide compensation for the moral damage caused by the death of the son in favor of the soldier's mother, and on 20 September 2007 the Foundation won the lawsuit. On 28 January 2008, after the session of the court of appeals the ruling acquired the legal force. What made this case especially peculiar is that the military unit failed to execute the court's decision in timely manner. It is only on 7 May 2009 that the money was transferred to the mother of the deceased. The MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation, that is monitoring execution of all the court decisions on the successful lawsuits, was able to achieve justice in this case of especially "slow" officials of the military unit. On 22 October 2009 Rostov-on-Don Leninsky District Court examined another claim that was submitted by the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation on behalf of Galina A. Mineeva - for indexing of the funds awarded to the mother. We demanded that the respondent due to the slow execution of the court's decision should additionally provide 80,360 rubles to the mother of the deceased - and we won!
On 30 November 2007 Moscow City Tverskoy District Court satisfied the claim of the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation filed on behalf of the parents of the deceased serviceman Lyudmila D. Strugovaya and Andrey I. Andreev from St. Petersburg. Their son Igor Andreev (born 1986) was drafted into military service on 28 April 2004. He was sent to serve in the military unit No. 1005 "Ж" (President's Regiment). He was bullied there: was forced to give away his money and was beaten. In March 2005, Igor was seriously beaten by the private R. O. Romadov who served in the same unit. The reason - Igor was not able to get more money (this is the time when the one fact of bullying Igor Andreev was supported by the witness testimony). On 22 June 2005 Igor Andreev together with other servicemen from the military unit No. 1005 was sent to the military unit No. 51212 in Sevastopol. On 23 June 2005 the conductor of the train Moscow-Sevastopol, in which the transferred servicemen were traveling, found the body of Igor Andreev next to the toilet - he was hanging in the noose made from his belt fixed to the water supply pipe. When the parents contacted us, we regarded this case as a very difficult one. First of all, the respondent was the President's Regimen (the mother of the deceased was shocked by the way the regiment representatives were speaking in court - they were lying without even blushing). Secondly, there was only one witness of only one case of bullying - this is not much to secure an adequate verdict. However, it was lucky that the parents contacted us right after they received the notice about their son's death. This allowed our lawyers to monitor the investigation process from the very beginning. As the result, prosecutor's office of the Moscow Military District carried out the high-quality investigation into the death of Igor Andreev. This helped to secure conviction - on 9 March 2006 Romadov was convicted in accordance with the Article 335 Part 1 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (violation of the service manual rules on relations between the servicemen when it is not a case of subordination relations and involving humiliation of honor and dignity, including violence) and was sentenced to serve one year and six months in the disciplinary battalion. Success of this case gave us hope that the second lawsuit would be as successful - the lawsuit for moral damage compensation against the President's Regiment that we filed on behalf of the parents of the deceased. In the case of this civil suit we set ourselves the challenging task - to prove that the President's Regiment is to bear guilt for the death of the soldier. At the initial stage our chances seemed to be bleak. But later, step by step, we were able to realize our plan. As an important step, we had to secure the implementation of an independent psychiatric forensic examination. As the result, Judge Knyazev made a ruling that became an important precedent and the best verdict among all the cases led by the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation in 2007. It can serve as an important example of a case when a penalty of moral damage compensation due to the death of soldiers in the army was imposed. On 18 March 2008, this decision went through the appeals process and was put into legal force. Later on we made sure that the court's decision was executed and the parents received the money.
17 December 2007 - Arkhangelsk Garrison Military Court ruled on the case of Vadim Sirotkin from Vologodskaya Oblast who died while serving in the army. Vadim was drafted on 21 November 2006 and served in the military unit No. 55603 in Leningradskaya Oblast. In July 2007 Vadim and some other servicemen from the unit No. 55603 were sent on assignment to the village of Obozyorsk, Arkhangelskaya Oblast. He tragically died on July 6: during loading-unloading work, which was carried out next to the power line, Vadim was killed by high voltage electric shock. This happened as the result of violation of safety rules by the captain of the military unit No. 55603 Vyacheslav P. Malygin who was in charge of these high risk activities. He was convicted in accordance with the Article 143 Part 3 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code (violation of safety rules by the person who is in charge of enforcing safety rules leading to the death of a person due to carelessness) and received the 2-year conditional sentence of imprisonment. Under this criminal process, the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation, acting on behalf of the parents of the deceased, filed a lawsuit for compensation for moral damage that was satisfied by the court: the military unit involved was obligated to provide 1 million rubles to the parents of the deceased as a compensation for moral damage caused by their son's death, as well as 42 thousand rubles as compensation for material damage.
On 1 April 2008, Sertolovskiy Garrison Military Court (Leningradskaya Oblast) was considering the case of the death of junior sergeant Sergey Zav'yalov (born 1984) from Vologda. Sergey was drafted on 23 June 2005 and served in the military unit No. 11255 in the Village of Sertolovo in Leningradskaya Oblast. On 5 May 2007 he died in the neurosurgery clinic of the Saint-Petersburg Military Medical Academy as a result of severe injuries inflicted by another serviceman Dmitry Kochkov. Kochkov was charged in accordance with the Article 334 Part 2 Item "c" and Article 111 Part 4 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code. On behalf of the mother of the deceased, the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation filed a lawsuit for compensation for moral damage. Consequently, Kochkov was convicted and sentenced to 6 years of imprisonment in the general security penal colony. The military unit involved was obligated to provide 1 million rubles as a compensation for moral damage caused by her son's death. On May 30, 2008, the court's judgment passed appeals and was put into legal force.
On 17 September 2008, 101 Garrison Military Court was reconsidering the criminal case involving the death of the serviceman Nikolay Ishimov. He tragically died in the military unit No. 586112 - he was shot by the warrant officer Bazelev in presence of other servicemen. The first investigation was carried out with numerous violations; as the result Bazelev was only sentenced to 3 years and 4 months of penal settlement. Having passed through the "first circle of hell" of the Ishimov's case, we did not give up and appealed to reconsider the unacceptably mild sentence pronounced by the Judge Shahov. We were able to take the case back to the first instance court. Consequently, Bazelev was sentenced to 5 years and 8 months of imprisonment. The court also ruled on the lawsuit for compensation for moral damage that the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation filed on behalf of the mother of the deceased Ishimova Lyubov Grigorievna. The court obligated the defendant to provide 1 million rubles as a compensation for moral damage inflicted by her son's death. On 26 December 2008 the court judgment passed appeals and was put into legal force.
On 15 January 2009, Khanty-Mansiysk District Court of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Region ruled on the lawsuit filed by the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation on behalf of the mother of the deceased serviceman Tikhon Tatyana Vladimirovna. Her son Anton Tihon was drafted on 5 June 1998 and served in the military unit No. 6761 (Special Forces Detachment #15 of the North-Caucasus District Internal Forces of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, otherwise known as Armavir Special Forces). On 5 September 1999, Anton's unit was sent to Dagestan under the command of Colonel-General V.G. Kazantsev. Internal Forces Deputy Commander-in-Chief was Major-General N. A. Cherkashenko. It was Cherkashenko who developed a plan of seizing control of the high point 715.3 to be implemented by the Armavir Special Forces and that was consequently approved by Kazantsev. These two people sent the young soldiers into combat equipped with communication devices with low batteries and eventually put them under the attack of their own air force. As the result, 9 special force soldiers died on the slopes of the hill, 23 soldiers were shell-shocked. Anton Tikhon was among those who died. Cherkashenko who developed the senseless operation plan was pronounced guilty in accordance with the Article 293 of the Russian Federation Criminal Court (negligence). However, he was granted amnesty and escaped any penalty. The MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation on behalf of the mother of the deceased filed a lawsuit demanding that the Ministry of Finance (being an institution in charge of the budget resources) must provide financial compensation for the criminal actions of the official serving under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. The court ruled to satisfy our legal claim of 1 million rubles. On 7 April 2009, the court's judgment passed appeals and was put into legal force; the mother of the deceased received the compensation.
On 5 June 2009, Domodedovo District Court ruled on the case lead by the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation on behalf of the mother of the deceased Zakharova Rimma Valentinovna from Orenburg. Her son sergeant Sergey Zakharov (born 1988) served in the military unit No. 41600, Moscow District. On 29 December 2007, he died. Initially the parents were told that their son died because of the heart failure. However, later it became known that the cause of his death was reflectory cardiac arrest resulting from the punch inflicted by Captain Melnikov who served in the same unit. The MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation led the criminal case on behalf of the family of the deceased. Consequently, Melnikov was sentenced to 5 years of imprisonment. Additionally, the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation claimed that the military unit No. 41600 should provide compensation for moral damage caused by the death of the son to the mother of the deceased. The court ruled to satisfy the claim and awarded 700 thousand rubles. On 3 September 2009, the court judgment passed appeals and was put into legal force and currently the court judgment is being realized. Additionally, we are planning to file a similar lawsuit on behalf of the father of the deceased to bring the overall amount of compensation to the Zakharovs family to 1.5 million rubles.
On 29 June 2009, Saint-Petersburg Krasnogvardeyskiy District Court ruled on the lawsuit for compensation for moral damage filed by the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation on behalf of the aunt of the deceased serviceman Gromova Lyudmila Vladimirovna. Her nephew Denis Panasenko (born 1987) was drafted from Oryol on 16 November 2006 and served in the military init No. 43117 in Saint-Petersburg. On 19 July 2007, he died in hospital as a result of severe injuries caused by the impact of the fall from the 5th floor of the building on the territory of the military unit. The investigation revealed that Denis committed suicide as a result of the actions of the senior serviceman Nikolay Rodionov. On 13 December 2007, the Saint-Petersburg Military Court sentenced Rodionov to 4.5 years of imprisonment in accordance with the Article 335 Part 3 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code. As Denis was an orphan, the claimant under the case was his aunt; therefore, the lawsuit was filed on her behalf. The MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation won the case: the military unit involved was obligated to provide 400 thousand rubles as a compensation for moral damage caused by the death of the nephew and 22 thousand rubles as compensation for material damage. Initially, the military unit did not appeal. Later however they filed a request to reinstate the term for appeal. As there was no good reason for missing the appeal term, on 6 Octover 2009 Saint-Petersburg Krasnogvardeyskiy District Court rejected the request of the military unit.
Currently, the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation is leading the case on compensation for moral damage on behalf of the mother of the deceased serviceman Karimova Elena Nikolaevna. Her son Artur Karimov (born 1985) was drafted on 2 June 2004 and served in the military unit No. 42710, Rostov Oblast. After finishing the training course, Artur and other servicemen were sent to the new location under Khabarovsk. On 22 November 2004, on the way to the new location Artur hanged himself in the noose made from his belt. Investigation revealed that this suicide was the result of the bullying and humiliating actions by his fellow serviceman Dmitry Glazkov. The MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation was leading the criminal case on behalf of the mother of the deceased. On 5 November 2008, Glazkov was pronounced guilty in accordance with the Article 335 Part 3 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code - bullying and humiliation of honor and dignity resulting in grave consequences - and sentenced to 2.5 years of imprisonment. Now we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the mother of the deceased for compensation for the moral damage caused by the death of her son. On 20 October 2009, Orenburg Oblast Orsky District Court started hearing of the case.
We do not send multiple complaints to the European Court of Human Rights. In the recent years we only turned to the European Court three times: the case on the death in the army of Ivan Krasheninnikov from Penzenskaya Oblast (see the 2008 report of the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation), the case on the death in the army of Evgeny Phillippov from Ul'yanovskaya Oblast (see the 2008 report of the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation) and the case of the death of Nikolay Koloverin from Novosibirsk Oblast. In all three cases we tried all the possibilities of achieving justice on behalf of the parents of the deceased within the Russian Federation and were actively calling upon the Government not to make us turn to Strasbourg. However, now Judge Usmanov Ali Usmanovich (Orenburg Military Court), Judge Chepelev Yury Nikolaevish (Lyuberetsky Military Court) and Judge Aliev Azer Ismailovich (Bezrechnensky Military Court) will have to answer to the European Court of Human Rights...
(Quite naturally, unlike many other private lawyers the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation does not charge parents of the deceased for preparing the complaints to the European Court, just like we do not charge for any other work that we do on their behalf. We do not capitalize on this.)
The positive experience of the past 20 years of the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation work clearly shows that in most cases, if it is possible to involve a qualified and experienced lawyer, there is no need to turn to the European Court. It is possible to successfully resolve the case within the Russian Federation. At the same time, it is important to spread awareness among Judges and the state authorities on the norms of the European Convention, and those can be applied to any case. If the norms are followed and applied properly, the flow of the complaints to the European Court from the Russian Federation will come to an end. In reality, even though the Supreme Court does apply the European standards on human rights in their documents, they do not make effort to spread the application of these standards to the general courts. What the Supreme Court could do is to analyze the judicial acts with the application of these standards and to include suggestions on application of the European standards in the Russian Federation into their recommendations (especially, taking into account that this kind of recommendations are especially important for the courts of the first instance and courts of appeals).
It is useful to note here that at the MOTHER'S RIGHT Foundation we actively apply the European standards of human rights in our work.