Dubovtsev and others v. Ukraine (Applications nos. 21429/14, 221424/14, 332024/14, 432161/14, 532778/14, 633719/14, 733729/14, 842200/14, 942204/14, 1051084/14)

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


78.  The Court further refers to its examination of similar complaints in Shmorgunov and Others (cited above, § 477), where it found that that in those applicants’ cases the minimum standard set by Article 5 § 1 (c) of the Convention for the reasonableness of a suspicion was not met and that there was an element of arbitrariness. The impugned events in the present case disclose similarities. In particular, when the applicants were placed in custody, the suspicion against them was based exclusively on the statements of police officers, even though the events at issue had taken place in public and hundreds of individuals had been present and involved. The wording of those statements was almost identical, and essentially they were couched in general terms (see paragraphs 5 and 13-15 above). 

79.  Furthermore, the decisions on the applicants’ detention simply reproduced parts of the official notifications of suspicion and, even though they had denied committing any offence, provided no reasons as to why the suspicion was considered to have a sufficient evidential basis, apart from referring to unidentified “witness statements” and unspecified “other material” (see paragraphs 16, 18 and 19 above). 

80.  On the whole, it appears that on 27 January 2014 the Babushkinskyy District Court of Dnipro examined the question of the applicants’ detention in a summary manner, conducting no thorough, objective and individualised assessment of their cases. 

81.  The Court also notes that the criminal proceedings against the applicants were eventually discontinued for the reason that no crime had been committed (see paragraph 21 above) and that, in disciplinary proceedings against the judges who had detained them, it was established that the latter had acted unlawfully and arbitrarily (see paragraphs 42, 43, 45 and 46 above). Furthermore, the information contained in the related official notification of suspicion, while not conclusive, appears to indicate that officials from law-enforcement bodies and courts of the Dnipropetrovsk Region had been given “oral instructions” to detain, allegedly regardless of relevant legal constraints , those who had taken part or could have taken part in the “peaceful protests” in Dnipro, and to initiate criminal proceedings against them. Allegedly, this was to be done in order to intimidate other protesters and dissuade them from continuing their participation in the protests (see paragraph 37 above). While the Court is not prepared to attach decisive weight to those findings and suspicions, which were made in the different context of disciplinary and criminal proceedings against the judges concerned, it has already highlighted the fact that at the relevant time the authorities appear to have adopted a deliberate strategy to put an end to and further hinder those protests. That strategy could explain the widespread detention of certain protesters. In this regard, the Court refers to its findings in Shmorgunov and Others (cited above, §§ 473-75 and 520). 

82.  In the light of the foregoing, the Court considers that the domestic authorities failed to advance sufficient reasoning and evidence to justify the detention of  Mr V. Dubovtsev, Mr K. Orbeladze, Mr O. Tsyganov, Mr V. Shebanov and Mr O. Bereza (applications nos. 21429/14, 32778/14, 33719/14 and 42204/14) on the dates specified in paragraph 77 above and that their detention cannot be regarded as being free from arbitrariness. Accordingly, there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention in those applicants’ cases. 


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