Bryan and Others v. Russia (Application no. 22515/14)

A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.


85. In the present case, the applicants had notified the authorities in advance of their intention to hold a peaceful protest and the clearly stated goal of the protest was to draw public attention to the environmental effects of oil drilling and exploitation. The Court finds that, notwithstanding its disruptive character, such action should be considered an expression of opinion on a matter of significant social interest.

86.  In view of the above considerations, the Court concludes that the applicants’ complaint is compatible ratione materiae with Article 10 of the Convention.

96. Having established that the applicants’ protest at the Prirazlomnaya platform constituted an expression of opinion within the meaning of Article 10 (see paragraphs 85-86 above), the Court considers that the apprehension of the applicants, their detention and their criminal prosecution constituted interference with their freedom of expression (see, for similar reasoning, Yezhov and Others, §§ 27-28; Açık and Others, § 40; and Sabuncu and Others, § 226, all cited above). Such an interference will breach Article 10 of the Convention unless it satisfies the requirements of the second paragraph of that Article. It therefore remains to be determined whether the interference was “prescribed by law”, pursued one or more of the legitimate aims referred to in that paragraph and was “necessary in a democratic society” in order to achieve them (see Steel and Others, cited above, § 89).

97. In so far as the lawfulness of the interference in the present case is concerned, the Court has already found that the applicants’ apprehension and detention arbitrary and not lawful for the purposes of Article 5 § 1 (c) of the Convention, and that there has therefore been a violation of their right to liberty and security under Article 5 § 1 (see paragraphs 73 and 76 above). The Court reiterates that the requirements of lawfulness under Articles 5 and 10 of the Convention are aimed, in both cases, at protecting the individual from arbitrariness (see Sabuncu and Others, cited above, § 230, and Ragıp Zarakolu v. Turkey, no. 15064/12, § 79, 15 September 2020, and contrast Lucas v. the United Kingdom (dec.), no. 39013/02, 18 March 2003). It follows that, where detention is not lawful and constitutes interference with one of the freedoms guaranteed by the Convention, it cannot be regarded, in principle, as a restriction of that freedom prescribed by national law (see, for similar reasoning, Sabuncu and Others, cited above, § 230). The Court is therefore not called upon to examine whether the interference in question had a legitimate aim and was necessary in a democratic society.

98.  Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention in the present case.


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