Europe’s top rights court has condemned a 2014 Russian order to keep opposition figure Alexei Navalny under house arrest, saying it was unlawful and politically motivated. The court says Moscow must now pay him €20,000.
Russia violated the rights of Alexei Navalny by holding him under house arrest for most of 2014, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled Tuesday, reported DW.
Navalny was put under house arrest for months while he and his brother Oleg were investigated for embezzlement. They were convicted in December 2014 — Navalny got a suspended sentence and his brother went to prison — but both claimed the charges were politically driven.
The Strasbourg-based ECHR said the restrictions placed on the dissident were disproportionate to the criminal charges he faced, adding that it was “apparent he had been treated in that way in order to curtail his public activities.”
Forty-two-year-old Navalny, a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, celebrated the ruling on social media, saying it would “have important consequences for all those in Russia who are constantly subjected to this kind of lawlessness.”
The court ordered Russia to pay Navalny €20,000 ($22,550) in damages and €2,665 in legal costs.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the ruling was “quite unexpected.”
“We cannot really agree with it. But we have a justice ministry, it is their prerogative to deal with these issues,” he said.
Russia can appeal the verdict.
It’s not the first time the court has ruled on Russia’s treatment of Navalny. In November, it found that seven arrests between 2012 and 2014 had violated Navalny’s rights to security, a fair trial and the freedom of assembly. In that case it ordered Russia to pay Navalny €63,000 in damages.
In 2016, the ECHR ruled that a 2013 trial in which Navalny received a five-year jail sentence on corruption charges was unfair.
The convictions against Navalny have prevented him from running in elections, which the campaigner’s supporters say is a clear attempt by Putin to eliminate political opposition.