29 March 2011, Tuesday

The European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia for the deaths of three Dagestani women and two children in 1999 and the disappearance of a Chechen man in 2002, Russian Justice Initiative reported today.  

The applicants in Murtazovy v. Russia are the brother, wife and four children of Ayub Murtazov, who disappeared after his detention by Russian federal forces from his home in Naurskaya village, Chechnya. In the early morning of 19 November 2002 around twenty heavily armed Russian servicemen broke into Ayub’s house. Without identifying themselves, the servicemen searched the house and tied up Ayub’s wife, Kumset, and two of his young sons with adhesive tape. When Kumset finally managed to free herself and her sons, the neighbors told her of Ayub’s detention, and also that they had seen several armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in the area that night. Ayub had been detained in similar circumstances in October 2001 after a dispute with the local administration and a criminal investigation based on fabricated evidence had been opened against him. He was released after signing an undertaking not to leave his place of residence. Ayub was never seen again after his abduction in 2002 and the investigation into his disappearance yielded no results.

The applicants in Esmukhambetov and Others v. Russia are 27 former residents of the Chechen border town of Kogi, including the relatives of three women and two children who were killed during an air strike conducted by Russian military forces in the town on 12 September 1999. Two military planes indiscriminately dropped over seventy bombs on the village, which also destroyed many houses. The Court found that the government failed in its duty to safeguard the lives of the civilians in Kogi and that the force employed was grossly disproportionate to the perceived threat from rebel fighters.

In its unanimous judgments, the European Court found that:

  • The right to life has been violated in respect of Ayub Murtazov (Murtazovy) and in respect of Borambike, Elmurat and Eldar Esmukhambetovy, Melikhan Abdurakhmanova, and Bota Kartakayeva (Esmukhambetov) (Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
  • In both cases, the Russian authorities have failed to conduct an effective investigation into the above violations (Article 2);
  • The manner in which the applicants’ complaints were dealt with by the Russian authorities constituted inhuman treatment (Murtazovy) (Article 3);
  • Mautali Esmukhambekov was subject to inhuman treatment as he witnessed the killing of his entire family during the airstrike in Kogi (Esmukhambetov) (Article 3);
  • Ayub Murtazov was unlawfully deprived of his liberty (Article 5);
  • In Esmukhambetov, the interference with the applicants’ rights to private and family life and to property was unlawful (Arts. 8 and 1 of Protocol 1);
  • In both cases, many of the applicants did not have access to an effective remedy before the Russian authorities for the violations of the right to life (Article 13 in conjunction with Article 2 of the Convention) and in Esmukhambetov, all the applicants had no effective remedy for the violations against their right to private life and property (Article 13 in conjunction with Arts. 8 and 1 of Protocol 1).

The applicants in both cases were awarded almost 1.5 million euro in respect of material and moral damages. Russian Justice Initiative assisted the applicants in Murtazovy v Russia in bringing their case to the ECtHR. The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre and Memorial represented the applicants in Esmukhambetov and Others v Russia.

For more information,  

In Moscow,

Vanessa Kogan: + 7 (495) 915-0869; +7 (925) 863-5111

Anastasia Kushleyko: +7 (962)932-7878

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