Navalnyy and Gunko v. Russia (Application no. 75186/12)

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


83. […] It [the Court] found, in particular, that the domestic authorities had failed to discharge their positive obligation to ensure the peaceful conduct of the assembly at Bolotnaya Square (ibid., §§ 100-30 and 133-34)

84. […] the Court reiterates that measures taken by the authorities during a rally, such as its dispersal or the arrest of participants, and penalties imposed for having taken part in a rally amount to an interference (see Kasparov and Others, cited above, § 84, with further references). It therefore considers that the applicants’ arrest at the venue of the event and their conviction for administrative offences constituted an interference with their right to freedom of peaceful assembly.

86. […] In the context of his [the first applicant’s] complaint under Article 11 it must be stressed that none of the bodies dealing with the administrative proceedings examined the lawfulness of the termination of the assembly, an issue which was directly relevant to the lawfulness of the actions taken by the police in relation to the first applicant. He [the first applicant] was one of the active participants and speakers at the assembly and he was on his way to address the public gathered at the meeting venue when he was apprehended. It appears that the police prevented him from going on the stage and arrested him in an attempt to implement their decision to terminate the assembly. However, most of those present at the assembly venue were not aware of its early termination, or of the official order to disperse (see Frumkin, cited above, § 36), and therefore it cannot be conclusively established that the first applicant had received the order by way of a general announcement.

87. In view of the foregoing, the Court considers that even assuming that the first applicant’s arrest, detention and sentence in the form of a fine complied with the domestic law and pursued one of the legitimate aims listed in Article 11 § 2 of the Convention – presumably, public safety – the authorities failed to demonstrate that these measures corresponded to a “pressing social need” and were thus “necessary in a democratic society”.

89. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention in respect of the first applicant.

91. The Court further observes that during the administrative proceedings the second applicant explained that he had participated in the authorised public assembly and had intended to go home after it had ended, but he had not managed to leave because of the presence of many people and the fact that the area had been cordoned off. […] the Court observes that the domestic courts’ findings are contradictory. In particular, the courts established that the second applicant had disrupted the traffic and at the same time mentioned that the area had been closed to traffic (see paragraphs 28 and 69 above).

92. In view of the foregoing, the Court considers that the measures taken against the second applicant were not necessary in a democratic society. Moreover, the dispersal of the demonstration, giving rise to the second applicant’s arrest, detention and sentence in the form of administrative imprisonment, albeit for a short duration, had a chilling effect, discouraging him and others from participating in protest rallies or from engaging actively in opposition politics.

93. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 11 of the Convention in respect of the second applicant.


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