Yartsev v. Russia (Application no. 16683/17)
A selection of key paragraphs can be found below the judgement.CASE-OF-YARTSEV-v.-RUSSIA
33. The applicant argued that the Public Events Act did not contain any prohibition on shouting slogans that did not correspond to the declared aims of a public event. In so far as the Government argued that applicant’s conviction had been lawful because, by shouting slogans that had not corresponded to the declared aims of the approved public event, he had participated in a separate public event that had not received official approval, the Court notes that the District Court’s findings to that effect (see paragraph 11 above) were rejected by the City Court. The City Court found that the District Court had incorrectly applied domestic law and that the applicant had taken part in a public event that had received official approval (see paragraph 13 above). It follows that the legal provisions prohibiting participation in public events that had not been notified or had not received official approval could not serve as a legal basis for the applicant’s conviction.
34. The City Court referred to section 6(2) of the Public Events Act, which allows participants to use any banners or other means of expression not prohibited by law (see paragraphs 13 and 18 above). The Court notes that the City Court did not explain why it considered that the slogans “Stop abuse by cops” and “Down with the police State” chanted by the applicant were prohibited by law. Nor did it refer to any domestic legal provision prohibiting such slogans or, more generally, prohibiting participants from chanting slogans that did not correspond to the declared aims of a public event. The domestic courts did not therefore convincingly demonstrate that by shouting the slogans in question the applicant had committed a breach of the established rules for the conduct of public events punishable under Article 20.2 of the CAO.
35. The Court also observes that the Government have not submitted any evidence of established domestic practice interpreting the prohibition contained in section 6(2) of the Public Events Act as covering slogans that did not correspond to the declared aims of a lawful public event. The Court notes in this connection that in its later Ruling of 26 November 2018 the Constitutional Court explained that banners or other means of public expression of opinion could not be found to be in breach of the law of the Russian Federation on the sole ground that they did not correspond to the declared aims of a public event (see paragraph 20 above).
37. The Court concludes from the above that the applicant’s conviction for shouting slogans that did not correspond to the declared aims of the lawful public event in which he participated did not have a basis in domestic law.
38. The Court finds that the interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression and assembly was not “prescribed by law” and that there has therefore been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention interpreted in the light of Article 11.