The European Court of Human Rights has found Russian opposition activist and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov’s arrest by Moscow police at a peaceful demonstration on New Year’s Eve, 2010, his three-day detention at the police station, and his conviction and subsequent 15-day prison sentence, constituted a violation of his human rights, and has awarded him EUR 26,000 in damages and an additional EUR 2,500 in costs.
After his arrest, Nemtsov was held in a cell without a bed, window, or sufficient light for two days, provided no food or water beyond that provided by his family, and then made to stand for four hours during his trial. He was then sentenced to 15 days in prison for “disobeying police." Police said he was detained when he crossed from an approved demonstration to an unsanctioned one also being held in Triumfalnaya Square, in Moscow. After reviewing the evidence, the Court unanimously concluded that Nemtsov’s arrest was arbitrary and constituted an impermissible violation of his rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, his conviction was obtained in violation of his right to a fair hearing and his right to liberty and security of person, and that his 3-day detention at the Tverskoy District police station before trial amounted to inhuman and degrading treatment.
As such, the Court found the Russian Government in violation of Article 3, 5(1), 6, 10, 11, and 13 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
The Court’s judgment makes this already-bad week even worse for the Russian government, which has already been hit with increased sanctions by the West related to its involvement with the Ukrainian separatist movement and then hit with a USD 50 billion penalty following its break-up of Yukos.