Frumkin v. Russia (Application no. 74568/12)

A selection of key paragraph(s) can be found below the document.


127. The Court’s findings in the foregoing paragraphs lead to the conclusion that the police authorities had not provided for a reliable channel of communication with the organisers before the assembly. This omission is striking, given the general thoroughness of the security preparations for anticipated acts of defiance on the part of the assembly leaders. Furthermore, the authorities failed to respond to the real-time developments in a constructive manner. In the first fifteen minutes after the march’s arrival at Malyy Kamenny bridge, no official took any interest in talking to the march leaders showing signs of distress in front of the police cordon. Eventually, when the sit-in began, they sent the Ombudsman with a message to the leaders to stand up and move on, which provided no answer to the protesters’ concerns. Whether or not the senior police officers beyond the cordon had initially understood the demands of the sit-in leaders, there was nothing preventing them from immediately clarifying the issue and from giving them a clear answer.
128. In the light of the foregoing, the Court finds that in the present case the authorities made insufficient effort to communicate with the assembly organisers to resolve the tension caused by the confusion about the venue layout. The failure to take simple and obvious steps at the first signs of the conflict allowed it to escalate, leading to the disruption of the previously peaceful assembly.
129. The Court has already referred to the Venice Commission’s Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, which recommends negotiation or mediated dialogue if a standoff or other dispute arises during the course of an assembly as a way of avoiding the escalation of conflict (see guideline 5.4, paragraph 80 above). It considers, however, that it is unnecessary to define the standard required in relation to the Guidelines or otherwise. The Court considers that from any point of view the authorities in this case did not comply with even the minimum requirements in their duty to communicate with the assembly leaders, which was an essential part of their positive obligation to ensure the peaceful conduct of the assembly, to prevent disorder and to secure the safety of all the citizens involved.
130. The authorities have thus failed to discharge their positive obligation in respect of the conduct of the assembly at Bolotnaya Square. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention on that account.


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