Ukraine Sues Russia in European Court over ‘Targeted Assassinations’

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, his wife Yulia, opposition politician Lyubov Sobol and other demonstrators march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in downtown Moscow on February 29, 2020. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP) (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Ukraine has filed a case with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) accusing Russia of the “targeted assassinations” of its political opponents “in Russia and on the territory of other state” and of hiding its lethal activities, a Tuesday press release from the ECHR revealed.

The government in Kyiv insists that Moscow’s alleged authorization of assassinations against its political opponents “outside a situation of armed conflict,” which occur both in Russia and in other countries — including Council of Europe member states — violates Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the “right to life.”

The Russian Federation is a signatory to the convention.

Ukraine further alleges that Russia has an “administrative practice” of not investigating the alleged assassinations and of “deliberately mounting cover-up operations aimed at frustrating efforts to find the persons responsible.”

Europeiska Pravda, a Ukrainian outlet, said the case includes the alleged poisoning of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, according to the Agence France-Presse (AFP). Navalny, an outspoken proponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin, fell ill on a flight to Moscow last year and has since accused Putin of ordering his death.

The ECHR press release did not, however, specify any of the alleged assassinations related to the Ukrainian filing.

Ukraine’s filing marks its ninth case against Russia in the ECHR, according to Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (RFERL).

The ECHR release noted that, including the assassination case, the court has four pending Ukrainian-backed suits against Russia. Among them is a case involving the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which occurred in July 2014. Another involves alleged Russian convention violations in Crimea and a third addresses the Russian seizure of three Ukrainian naval vessels in the Kerch Strait in 2018.

Russia and Ukraine have been at war since Russian rebels, which Kyiv contests are sanctioned by Moscow, launched attacks on the Ukrainian government, declaring themselves sovereign states. Russia, backed by these rebels, invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014.

Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, was the historical seat of the medieval Kievan Rus and later part of a greater Russian state from 1667-1991, with brief interludes during the First and Second World Wars. Ethnic Russians, mostly concentrated in the country’s eastern half, remain Ukraine’s largest minority group, according to Brittanica, though lingering active territorial disputes with Moscow and the ongoing Donbass conflict make an exact figure difficult to calculate.


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