Disinfo: ECHR demand that Russia release Navalny is politically motivated


The European judiciary continues to dirty itself with politically motivated rulings.

The European Court of Human Rights has demanded that Russia release activist Alexei Navalny, who is due to serve a prison term for embezzlement, without reference to either European or Russian legislation.

This constitutes blatant interference in Russia’s judicial system. Navalny was sentenced by a Russian court, under Russian laws. The European Court has no right to overrule this judgment, nor has it the power to issue a decision on the merits in Navalny’s case. This sort of meddling only serves to confirm that the EU is sticking up for its agent, and is prepared to do so without citing a single legal argument.


The story is part of an ongoing pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign targeting Russian activistAlexei Navalny.

The news segment distorts the content and meaning of the ECHR's appeal in several key ways.

In the first place, it cites only a small excerpt of the ECHRcommunique calling for the release of Alexei Navalny, while conveniently omitting that section of the document which grounds the Court's decision both in judicial precedent and with reference to the European Convention of Human Rights. The omitted portion states that failure on Russia's part to comply with the request "may entail a breach of Article 34 of the Convention," a provisiongranting any individual, group, or non-governmental entity based in a signatory state the right to lodge proceedings with the Court "claiming to be the victim of a violation by one of the High Contracting Parties of the rights set forth in the Convention," and requiring the signatory state "not to hinder in any way the effective exercise of this right." Moreover, the communique makes reference to the 2005 ECHR judgment inMamatkulov and Askarov v. Turkey, arguing that the operative part of the judgment applies to the Russian state's treatment of Navalny [see paras. 128-9 and point 5 of the operative part beginning with "For these reasons, the court..."].

Second, the ECHR statement is not so much a "demand" as a reminder of Russia's obligation to observe the provisions of the Convention, which it voluntarily assumed upon joining the Council of Europe in 1996. Resolution 1301, passed by the Council's Parliamentary Assembly in 1994,requires all member states to "respect their obligations under the Statute, the European Convention on Human Rights and all other conventions to which they are parties."

Third, contrary to what the news segment is implying, the ECHR is not seeking a reversal of Navalny's conviction but merely imploring Russia to respect his rights under the Convention. The above-mentioned communique reads:

The Court had regard to the nature and extent of risk to the applicant’s life, demonstrated prima facie for the purposes of applying the interim measure, and seen in the light of the overall circumstances of the applicant’s current detention. This measure has been granted without prejudice to the Court’s decision on the merits of the present case and the competence of the Committee of Ministers.

Fourth, the notion that the ECHR's appeal concerning Navalny is somehow a function of EU policy toward Russia grossly misrepresents the structure of, and the relationship between, European institutions. The ECHR is a judicial body whose task is to interpret the European Convention of Human Rights and to establish, in each set of proceedings brought before it, whether the conduct of a signatory state constitutes a violation of the claimant’s Convention rights. The Court was formed in 1959 by the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe, an institution predating and separate from the European Union which is not to be confused with the EU’s European Council. See this explainer addressing the confusion.

Lastly, there is no evidence supporting the allegation that Alexei Navalny is an “agent” of the EU or any other Western structure. See here for our debunking of this claim.


  • Reported in: Issue 232
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 21/02/2021
  • Outlet language(s) Russian
  • Countries and/or Regions discussed in the disinformation: EU, Russia
  • Keywords: ECHR, Human rights, Anti-Russian, Alexei Navalny, Sovereignty, Dmitry Kiselyov, International Law
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