Oleksandr Volkov reinstated as Supreme Court Judge in Ukraine

2 February 2015

Mr. Volkov in front of the Supreme Court of Ukraine

Today, Oleksandr Volkov has been reinstated as a Judge in the Ukrainian Supreme Court, six weeks after the Verkhovna Rada voted decisively to overturn its 2010 resolution to dismiss him. Mr. Volkov was sacked under former President Viktor Yanukovych in circumstances involving a flagrant denial of natural justice. He petitioned the European Court of Human Rights which found four separate violations of the right to a fair trial (in 2013), and ordered Ukraine to reinstate him. His dismissal highlighted the systemic constitutional crisis in Ukraine at the time, and the overwhelming level of political control over the judiciary. Since the change in government in Kiev, Mr. Volkov has been working closely with Petro Poroshenko’s presidential administration. Today marks his return to work as a Supreme Court Judge.

The Verkhovna Rada took decisive action over Mr. Volkov’s reinstatement on 25 December 2014, voting with a majority of 247 to overturn its resolution of 17 January 2010 to dismiss him. The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) acted for Mr Volkov in the case before the European Court.

‘By Decree of the Parliament of 25 December 2014, […] I have been restored in position of Justice of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, and Ukraine fulfilled the requirements of Paragraph 9 of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. It took nearly two years and a change in the composition of the Parliament in order to have this part of the judgment executed. This shows again that the former regime, including the huge number of parliamentarians which supported it, never set any real goals aimed at the European integration of Ukraine, and did its best to obstruct European values and democratic standards. After the judgment of the European Court was pronounced on 9 January 2013 in Strasbourg, in answer to a journalist’s question I said, that Ukraine “won” in this case, and the then government – “lost”. Today, supporting this statement, I remain assured that the people of Ukraine will win. I am honoured to have the opportunity to support this [change] with my knowledge, experience and desire to implement reforms in line with European standards, which would convert Ukraine into a truly democratic, lawfully governed, social state.’

Oleksandr Volkov

Volkov’s case was the first in which the European Court has ever ordered a person’s reinstatement. Consequently, it was a big test for both Ukraine and the Court. Previously the old regime had even cited the British anti-ECHR (European Convention on Human Rights) position in arguing against complying with this judgment.

EHRAC’s Director, Prof. Philip Leach, who represented Mr. Volkov at the European Court, said,

It is a recurring and deeply regrettable problem that states frequently fail to comply with judgments of the European Court. This was the first case in which the Court has ordered that someone unfairly dismissed should be reinstated, and so it is very good news that Ukraine has complied and that Judge Volkov is back at the Supreme Court. 

However, substantial law reform, including constitutional changes, is still required as a result of the Strasbourg judgment so as to root out the systemic problems in the Ukrainian judicial system which the decision identified.’

We will be tweeting photos from Mr. Volkov’s first day back as Supreme Court Judge, so follow us @ehraq_hq

This monumental news was included in the Council of Europe’s Journal on 6 February 2015.