Zakharov and Varzhabetyan v. Russia (Applications nos. 35880/14 and 75926/17)

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


74. The Court has established beyond reasonable doubt that on 6 May 2012 the police used force against both applicants during the dispersal of the assembly at Bolotnaya Square, and that they sustained injuries as a result. It has further held that the recourse to physical force was not made strictly necessary by the applicants’ own conduct, nor had it been indispensable use in the context of quelling mass disorders, let alone in compliance with the proportionality requirement. It therefore amounted to ill-treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the Convention. 

89. The Government submitted in their observations that the Police Act allowed police officers to use force and special equipment in order to, inter alia, prevent a crime and suppress resistance shown towards a police officer. Thus, the Court accepts that the interference in question was “prescribed by law” and pursued the legitimate aim of the prevention of disorder and crime. 

90. Turning to the question of the “necessity” of the interference, the Court notes the Government’s submissions that the force was used to arrest those participants in the assembly who had acted violently and disobeyed the police. However, the Government have not submitted any explanations as to why force had to be applied in respect of the applicants, who were not arrested and did not engage in any acts of violence. In the light of its finding that the force used in respect of the applicants was unnecessary and excessive and thus contrary to Article 3 of the Convention (see paragraph 74 above), it finds that it was “not necessary in a democratic society” within the meaning of Article 11 § 2 of the Convention. Moreover, it could have had a chilling effect and discouraged the applicants and others from taking part in similar public gatherings. 


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