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Russia ordered to pay damages for arrest of opposition figure Kasparov

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] on Thursday ordered [judgment] Russia to compensate former chess master turned political activist, Garry Kasparov [personal website, in Russian; JURIST news archive], for his unjustified arrest following a planned anti-government demonstration in Moscow in April 2007. According to an ECHR press release [text, PDF], the court found that the detention of Kasparov and eight fellow demonstrators violated two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF] providing for a right to a fair trial and freedom of assembly and association. Kasparov and three other applicants were given authorization to meet at a monument in central Moscow but were arrested en route and charged with attempting to take part in an unauthorized demonstration in the street. During their trial, they were not allowed to call witnesses to confirm their location at the time of their arrest. "[T]he applicants' defense rights had been limited in a manner incompatible with the guarantees of a fair trial, as their request to examine eyewitnesses had been refused," the press release states. "Their arrest had been disproportionate to the aim of maintaining public order." The court ordered Russia to pay Kasparov €10,000 (USD $13,500) in damages.

Kasparov has faced numerous criminal charges from the Russian government for his involvement in political opposition activism. In December 2008 Kasparov was arrested [JURIST report] at an organizational meeting to form Solidarnost, a group with the stated intent of "dismantling" the regime of current Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was also arrested [JURIST report] in November 2007 at an anti-Putin demonstration two weeks before parliamentary elections and has accused Putin of forming a puppet judiciary [JURIST report] to persecute opposition leaders. Formerly the undisputed world chess grandmaster, Kasparov retired from professional chess in 2005 to focus on political activism. He is the founder and chairman of the United Civil Front, a political movement working "to preserve electoral democracy in Russia."

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