The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. Photo: Wikipedia
In three verdicts published on 31 May 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recognized Russia guilty for the actions of the authorities self-proclaimed Transnistria, a Russian proxy state in Moldova, the Ukrainian outlet Yevropeiska Pravda reported.
The verdicts of the ECHR concern three Moldovan citizens. The cases titled “Vardanean vs. the republic of Moldova and Russia,” “Apcov vs. the republic of Moldova and Russia,” and “Soyma vs. the republic of Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine” concern the fates of three convicts who were accused of committing crimes on the territory of the Transnistrian region of Moldova. The cases are all very different, but have one thing in common: in them, the decisions and arguments of the ECHR are identical – Strasbourg considers Russia responsible for any court decisions taken by the puppet state of Transnistria, which proclaimed its “independence” from Moldova in 1991-1992 and exists thanks to the financial and military support of Russia.
These three decisions of the ECHR, which assigned Russia to pay a fine of EUR 41,000, 43,000 and 21,000 respectively, demonstrated that the EU’s top human rights court has an algorithm by which it substantiates that Russia is responsible for all human rights violations in Transnistria. It cites two previous decisions it reached in 2004 and 2012, in which it found that due to the fact that “the Russian Federation contributed both militarily and politically to the creation of a separatist regime in the region of Transdniestria in 1991-1992″ and that “up until July 2010, the ‘MRT’ [‘Moldovan Republic of Transnistria’] was only able to continue to exist, and to resist Moldovan and international efforts to resolve the conflict and bring democracy and the rule of law to the region, because of Russian military, economic and political support,” there is “a strong indication that the Russian Federation continued to exercise effective control and a decisive influence over the Transdniestrian authorities.”
Therefore, the ECHR decided that Russia is responsible for the rulings of the Transnistrian “court.”
In the three recent cases, the ECHR didn’t look into the details of the cases, whether the person was really imprisoned by Tiraspol on political motives, or whether he really committed murder. The court decided that the Transnistrian “courts” are created illegally, they are not organs of justice and do not adhere to the minimal judicial standards. Therefore, the fact that a person was detained by such a “court” was enough for the ECHR to conclude that an extrajudicial, illegal punishment has taken place, for which Russia should pay a compensation to the convict.
Good news for victims of Russia’s aggression in Crimea and Donbas?
Functionally, Transnistria is very similar to Russia’s puppet states in Donbas – the Luhansk and Donetsk “People’s Republics” (“LNR,” “DNR). Russia’s military interference, financial support, and legislative control of these “states” makes them effectively, its satellites.
Read more: Stages of Russian occupation in a nutshell
The ECHR’s decisions are important for Ukraine because Ukraine has even more reasons to assert that Russia is guilty of human rights violations not only in occupied Crimea but also in the Donbas “republics.” As of 2017, the ECHR had 3,500 complaints against Ukraine, many of which were filed against Russia and Ukraine simultaneously) due to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.
Their number will only rise. The existing ones concern people who were illegally detained or arrested by the “DNR” and “LNR,” the shelling of civilians, the confiscation of property by Russian-backed separatists. It is natural that they want to receive compensation for their misfortunes.
As the European Court of Human Rights practices case law, where the decisions in one case can be used to substantiate the decisions of another similar case, there is little doubt that Strasbourg will decide that Russia needs to compensate Ukrainians who suffered from the actions of the authorities of the self-proclaimed “republics.”
However, while it’s more or less certain Russia will be fined, it’s less probable that the country will pay up. First of all, complaints to the ECHR are a long process. The court is overflowing with them and rarely does a decision in a case get made sooner than in 6-7 years. But what is more important, in the Transnistrian Russia has taken the position of not communicating with the court, except the first response that it doesn’t consider itself implicated, and to not pay the bills sent from Strasbourg.
Russia still hasn’t carried out the decision of the 2012 case “Catan and Others v. the Republic of Moldova and Russia,” which was used as a previous example in the three recent decisions of the ECHR. It’s more than likely that Russia will also choose to ignore them, and will use the same tactics to ignore the upcoming court cases regarding Russia’s responsibility for Donbas. Russia has chosen the tactics of ignoring these lawsuits, accumulating its problems related to its work in the European Council and is gradually moving towards leaving the organization, Yevropeiska Pravda writes.
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- Why Ukraine must avoid the Transnistrian scenario
- Moldova – Ukraine’s problematic neighbor or partner on the road to the EU?
Tags: court, Donbas, ECHR, Transnistria