Ukrainian citizens turn to Strasbourg after Russian Supreme Court upholds convictions
On 26 October 2016, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the sentences of Stanislav Klikh and Mykola Karpiuk (20 and 22.5 years respectively). Mr Klikh and Mr Karpiuk are both Ukrainian citizens who have been detained in Russia since 2014. On 19 May 2016, they were both convicted by the Supreme Court of the Chechen Republic of pre-meditated murder and attempted pre-meditated murder of members of the Russian armed forces during the first Chechen war between 1994 and 1995. They both deny the charges against them.
The European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC), based at Middlesex University, and the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHHRU, Kyiv), represent Mr Klikh and Mr Karpiuk in their cases before the European Court of Human Rights. Mr Klikh is also represented by Marina Dubrovina and Mr Karpiuk is represented by Dokka Itslayev in their domestic proceedings. EHRAC has previously raised concerns about the charges against both men and the treatment they have received while being detained by Russian authorities.
Mr Klikh has made several requests for interim measures (under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court) to the European Court that relate to his deteriorating physical and psychological health. Subsequently, the European Court requested a consolidated application in his case, which was submitted by EHRAC and UHHRU on 16 August 2016. The consolidated application set out in full allegations that he was subjected to torture and the failure to investigate his alleged torture (Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights – ECHR) and the unlawful basis of his prolonged pre-trial detention (Article 5 ECHR). On 16 Dec 2014, the European Court granted a Rule 39 request for emergency interim measures, made by Mr Karpiuk’s wife, to determine his location, ensure his personal security and respect of his ECHR rights.
The prosecution and conviction of Mr Klikh and Mr Karpiuk has led to increasing concern over the deterioration of their physical and mental health. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Russia has failed to abate these concerns. On the contrary, it raises further serious questions to be considered by the European Court about their right to fair trial, the basis of their detention and the treatment and conditions they have been subjected to in detention.