The practice of police violence in the context of sedentary protests and the violation of the fundamental rights of the ECHR
Annenkov and others v. Russia 25-07-2017 (no. 31475/10)
Sitting protest of Russian entrepreneurs not to demolish the local market and not to build a shopping mall. The male protesters were sentenced to administrative detention up to ten days and all women were sentenced to a fine.
Many of the applicants were injured by police officers, but their complaints were unsuccessful and the criminal proceedings begun after a long period.
The ECtHR has condemned Russia for inhuman treatment of the protestors, lack of investigation and violation of the right of assembly.
The case concerned a group of entrepreneurs who participated in sit-ins at their local market in protest against a plan to demolish the market and build a shopping centre. The entrepreneurs – the applicants – are 14 Russian nationals who were born between 1938 and 1969 and live in Voronezh or the Voronezh Region (Russia). They all either owned businesses at Voronezh market or worked as vendors for these businesses.
On 7 and 10 August 2009 two police operations were carried out to clear the occupation of the marketplace. A number of arrests were made during both operations, which included certain of the applicants. Administrative-offence cases were brought against the applicants in which the courts considered that they had disobeyed orders from the police. All those applicants who were men – except for one injured man (Mr Annenkov) – were sentenced to up to ten days’ administrative detention and all the women applicants were given fines. The decisions against the women applicants were however subsequently set aside and returned to the police; no further action has been taken since.
Four of the applicants were injured during the operation on 7 August, sustaining bruising and concussion. Mr Annenkov alleged that he had been struck and fell to the ground; and the others that they had either been grabbed or had their hair pulled before being dragged along on the ground. A criminal complaint was lodged against the police, but the investigating authorities issued a number of refusals to institute criminal proceedings, finding that the applicants could have sustained their injuries when resisting arrest. These decisions were all however overruled, most recently in October 2012, and a criminal case has since been opened.
Relying in particular on Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment), four of the applicants alleged that the police had used excessive force against them and that no effective investigation had been carried out into their complaint. Further relying on Article 11 (freedom of assembly and association), they also complained about the termination of their participation in the sit-ins and their ensuing convictions of administrative offences.
THE DECISION OF THE COURT
Violation of Article 3 (inhuman treatment) – in respect of Mr Annenkov, Ms Suprunova, Ms Guseva and Ms Zakharova
Violation of Article 3 (investigation) – in respect of Mr Annenkov, Ms Suprunova, Ms Guseva and Ms Zakharova
Violation of Article 11 – in respect of Mr Annenkov, Ms Suprunova, Ms Guseva, Ms Zakharova, Mr Finskiy, Mr Khavantsev, Mr Khripunov and Mr Buzov
Just satisfaction: – in respect of non-pecuniary damage: EUR 12,000 EUR to Mr Annenkov, EUR 8,500 EUR each to Ms Suprunova, Ms Guseva and Ms Zakharova, EUR 7,500 each to Mr Finskiy, Mr Khavantsev and Mr Khripunov, and EUR 4,000 EUR to Mr Buzov; – in respect of costs and expenses: EUR 460 to Ms Suprunova, EUR 60 each to Mr Annenkov, Mr Khripunov, Mr Khavantsev, Mr Finskiy, Ms Guseva and Ms Zakharova, and EUR 2,250 EUR to be paid directly to Ms Gnezdilova, representative of the applicants(echrcaselaw.com editing)