Case No. 45083/06
Judgment Date: 3 October 2017
In August 2000, a nuclear submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea due to a massive explosion that ripped open its front end. Another explosion quickly followed, which was felt as far away as Alaska. Russian officials declared all 118 crew members dead. However, it soon emerged that 23 sailors survived the initial explosions and asphyxiated while waiting for help. Journalist Elena Milashina published two articles in Novaya Gazeta. The first reported that the father of one of the victims had applied to the ECtHR claiming a violation of the right to life (Art. 2 ECHR). The article stated that the applicant’s son, who was an officer, had written a note which was discovered in October 2003 and stated that 23 men had survived. The officer’s father aimed to prove that State agents abused public office by failing to respond to the knocks coming from the submarine. The second article described how the officer’s father was pressured into withdrawing his application. Shortly afterwards, Novaya Gazeta and Ms Milashina were sued for defamation by several State officials and the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office. The District Court decided the case in favour of the claimants, after which Novaya Gazeta and Ms Milashina sought redress from the ECtHR alleging a violation of the right to freedom of expression (Art. 10 ECHR).