Russia has filed the first ever interstate complaint against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights on the basis of Article 33 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (interstate cases). Russia is asking the ECHR to take measures obliging Ukraine to stop blocking the supply of fresh water to Crimea, restricting the rights of national and linguistic minorities, including free access to education in their native language and lifting restrictions on access to Russian-language media. According to Kommersant, Mikhail Vinogradov, Russia’s commissioner to the ECHR, filed the lawsuit.
“The appeal is intended to draw the attention of the European Court and the entire world community to the gross and systematic violations of human rights by the Ukrainian authorities, to fix in the international legal field numerous facts of criminal acts, to force the Ukrainian authorities to stop committing them, to conduct a proper investigation and immediately bring the guilty persons to justice, to restore peace and accord in Ukraine,” the website of the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office says.
The groups of violations specified in Russia’s complaint to the ECHR:
- ukrainian authorities’ responsibility for civilian deaths, unlawful imprisonment and cruel treatment (on Independence Square in Kiev, in Trade Union House in Odessa in 2014, as well as in Donbass);
- suppression of freedom of speech and persecution of dissenters by banning media outlets and persecuting journalists, politicians, and ordinary citizens;
- discrimination against the Russian-speaking population, crowding out the use of the Russian language;
- discrimination against Russian companies and entrepreneurs;
- loss of life, harm to health, and destruction of property when Ukrainian armed forces fire on Russia’s neighboring territory;
- deprivation of residents of Donbas of the opportunity to participate in elections to the central authorities;
- blocking the North Crimean Canal, the main source of fresh water for Crimean residents;
- attacks on Russian diplomatic, consular, and other representative offices in Ukraine;
- the crash of Boeing 777 flight MH17 in Donbass on July 17, 2014 due to the Ukrainian authorities’ failure to close the airspace over the war zone;
- refusal to provide legal assistance to Russian investigative authorities in the investigation of the crimes committed.
Mikhail Vinogradov, who filed the lawsuit, heads the main department for international legal cooperation of the Prosecutor General’s Office. On July 8, he was also appointed as Russia’s envoy to the ECtHR. Preparation of the lawsuit began when Russia was represented at the ECHR by the Ministry of Justice, but the document was finalized by the General Prosecutor’s Office. The lawsuit was based, among other things, on the results of the investigation into the events in eastern Ukraine conducted by the Investigative Committee of Russia (ICR).