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Europe rights court rules Russia authorities violated protester's rights

[JURIST] The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website] ruled [text] Tuesday in favor of a man convicted of jaywalking during a 2012 protest in Moscow. Yevgeniy Frumkin was attending a demonstration in Bolotnaya Square to challenge the reelection of Vladimir Putin [BBC profile] to his third term as president. When the anticipated route for the march was curtailed by Russian authorities, protesters became disoriented, and police subsequently terminated the demonstration amid the confusion. Frumkin was arrested after an order for dispersal was given, and he remained in the street and was detained for approximately 36 hours prior to his trial. He claims that he was unable to immediately comply because of the crowded conditions and confusion. The court held that Russian authorities violated multiple articles of the European Convention on Human Rights [text, PDF]. Failure by the police to ensure peaceful conduct and the subsequent arrest and penalty violated Frumkin's freedom of assembly and association, the court said. The court further held that his right to liberty and security was violated by the 36-hour pre-trial detention and that the arrest and detention were unlawful. The court ordered Russian authorities to pay €25,000 in damages and €7,000 in expenses.

The treatment of activists in Russia has received recent scrutiny. In August a Russian military court sentenced [JURIST report] two Ukrainian activists to substantial jail time for the charge of conspiring to commit terror attacks. Oleg Sentsov, a filmmaker, and Aleksandr Kolchenko, an ecologist and antifascist activist, received 20 and 10 years in prison, respectively, for alleged arson attacks against pro-Russian groups during the Russian occupation of Crimea that took place last year. Sentsov and Kolchenko were outspoken activists against the Crimean annexation. Their trial and sentence have drawn much criticism for what some view as the suppression of dissidents by the Russian government. In March Russian liberal political activist Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back four times in the middle of busy downtown Moscow. Nemtsov was openly politically opposed to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its role in Ukraine, and many believe Putin ordered [JURIST report] the killing. In February Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was handed a 15-day prison sentence [JURIST report] for distributing leaflets attempting to publicize an "anti-crisis" demonstration.

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