Yukos and the European Court of Human Rights

In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights awarded former Yukos shareholders €1.9 billion in compensation. The Court found that Russia had violated Yukos’s right to a fair trial and the right to enjoy property peacefully.

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The European Court of Human Rights has also condemned Russia for violating the prohibition of torture, the right to liberty and the right to a fair trial in six other cases concerning the detention of former Yukos executives:

For Vasily Aleksanyan, the Court’s ruling came too late. Throughout his detention, he refused to sign false testimony against his former Yukos colleagues, and so the Russians denied him urgent hospital treatment. Mr Aleksanyan later died from the severe illnesses he suffered in prison.

-A man of honour, Vasily Aleksanyan (above) refused to give false testimony against his Yukos colleagues.

Alexey Pichugin has now been in jail for more than 15 years, Russia’s longest-serving political prisoner. He is held at the notorious ‘Black Dolphin’ prison in Siberia, and continually pressured to bear false witness against former Yukos colleagues. Russia has ignored both judgments of the European Court of Human Rights which condemn his detention.

-Alexey Pichugin, held in Siberia since 2003

While the Council of Europe repeatedly calls on Russia to respect its international obligations, Moscow shows growing contempt for both the Council and the European Court of Human Rights. Prompted by President Putin, Russia’s Constitutional Court has declared that the country is no longer bound by international human-rights rulings that conflict with its constitution.

For the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, “this is in direct conflict with Russia’s international obligations under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and article 46 of the European Convention on Human Rights, and should be removed.”

But Russia has now applied its new doctrine to the 2014 Yukos award, thus violating the basic principles of international law and making a mockery of the European Convention on Human Rights. In March 2017, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe expressed “serious concern” at Russia’s refusal to compy with the 2014 Yukos judgment, and underlined Russia’s “unconditional obligation to abide by Court judgments”.

To this day, Russia refuses to implement the 2014 judgment.

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