RUSSIANS LEAD IN TERMS OF APPEALS TO STRASBOURG COURT

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MOSCOW, October 20 (RIA Novosti) - Russia has reached the first place in Europe in terms of claims it files to the European Court of Human Rights. Over 18,000 Russian people have already appealed to the Strasbourg court. Eleven cases have been won, and the Russian government now owes the plaintiffs damage worth 700,000 euros, Novye Izvestia writes.

The court considers only claims to the state and admits no complaints about neighbours who have flooded one's flat, business partners owing one money, etc. Therefore, one can only complain about the state's illegal refusal to resolve such conflicts or causing ungrounded delays in a lawsuit. The Strasbourg Court has the right to consider a complaint only if plaintiffs have gone through all the possible courts of the Russian Federation.

The defendant on all complaints considered in Strasbourg is the state, or more precisely, the Russian government.

Recently, the Strasbourg Court has moved over from "flat disputes" to far more serious cases. Late last week, the European Court of Human Rights registered a complaint against violation by the Russian Central Election Commission of voters' rights during parliamentary elections (December 2003).

This week, Strasbourg is for the first time considering complaints of six Chechen residents accusing the Russian authorities of violating three articles of the European Convention on Human Rights. The matter concerns the human "right to life", the right to "a fair hearing" by "an independent and impartial tribunal", and the ban on tortures. The Chechen residents who are appealing to the court lost their relatives and property as a result of the Russian federal forces' actions.

So far, only 11 cases have been logically completed in Strasbourg. For example, on October 23, 2003, the Strasbourg Court obliged Russia to pay Nikolai Timofeyev from Orsk, Orenburg region, the damage of 2,900 rubles established in 1998 for his property confiscated in the 1980s, after hewas accused of anti-Soviet propaganda in 1981.

The largest damage the Strasbourg Court decided on was on July 8, 2004. 600,000 euros are to be paid to former Transdniestrian prisoners Ilia Ilascu, Alexandru Lesco, Andrei Ivantoc, and Tudor Petrov-Popa arrested in 1992 by Russian servicemen from the 14th army stationed in Tiraspol. Russia was found guilty of failing to prevent tortures in relation to the prisoners on behalf of the Transdniestrian Republic's authorities.

However, the most sensational case was the complaint of media tycoon, Vladimir Gusinsky, against his illegal three-day custody in 2000 when he was accused of "misappropriating property in large amounts." On May 19, 2004 the court ruled that Russia pay 88,000 euros to the tycoon for his defence expenditures.

According to Lev Ponomarev, executive director of the human rights movement, the Russian authorities duly and fully comply with the financial verdicts of the European Court.

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