The multiple arrests and detention sentences imposed on Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny by the Russian authorities are politically motivated, according to a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, which ordered Moscow to pay Navalny €63,000 in compensation for moral harm, material damages and court costs.
The court found that the repeated arrests of the 42-year-old opposition figure have been aimed at “suppressing political pluralism” in the country and “muzzling the opposition”. Crucially for Navalny, the court added that the “political motive behind his arrests was a fundamental aspect of the case.”
In the court’s initial ruling, delivered in February 2017, the Strasbourg-based judges also found in Navalny’s favour, citing violations of his right to “freedom”, “freedom of assembly” and “fair trial”. But the court did not acknowledge “political motivations” behind his frequent arrests. Both the Russian government and Navalny appealed the ruling to the court’s highest chamber. While Moscow challenged the ruling as a whole, Navalny was unhappy that the court did not find a political motive in his detention.
“I’m very pleased with this ruling, this is genuine justice,” Navalny told reporters after the hearing. “Today we have won all the cases and the most important thing is that we have obtained that these arrests are recognised as politically motivated.”
Today, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that my arrests were politically motivated. The last time Russia was found guilty of political persecution was 14 years ago, so this truly is a historic day https://t.co/4cv6LbLYB6
— Alexey Navalny (@navalny) November 15, 2018
Navalny was arrested seven times between 2012 and 2014 for taking part in anti-government rallies. Navalny rose to popularity via his Youtube channel where he attacked the government and President Putin over the rampant corruption in public life.
His bête noire status was confirmed when he was banned from running in March’s presidential elections due to a conviction for embezzlement, which he says was politically motivated.
He was arrested four times this year for taking part in demonstrations opposing the government’s plan to raise the retirement age.
As a member state of the Council of Europe Russia is legally bound to comply with today’s ruling; however, last year the Russian parliament passed a law allowing the country’s Constitutional Court to overrule the ECHR.
Moscow has threatened to pull out of the institution altogether citing the courts numerous findings against it.