EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Russian Arms-Control Expert Wins Case At Strasbourg Rights Court – Russia Pays “Tax Of Lawlessness”

Posted by Info on 03/05/2011

One of four Russians freed from prison last year in the biggest East-West “spy swap” since the Cold War has won his case against the Russian government at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).

The court today ordered the government of Russia to pay 20,000 euros ($29,600) to Igor Sutyagin, an arms-control expert and nuclear weapons specialist who was convicted on espionage charges in 2004 and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Sutyagin was released in July 2010 as part of a prisoner swap with the United States under which 10 alleged Russian spies were returned to Moscow. He has maintained that he never had access to classified information, although he signed an admission of guilt as part of the prisoner swap.

Sutyagin said: “I don’t know how the money will be paid. You can never be sure that it’ll be paid at all, since I know there are many precedents in which the European Court is already considering appeals about the nonfulfillment of its decisions. Although, on the other hand, lately I’ve heard that Russia is rather precisely paying such compensation, looking on it as a sort of taxfor its lawlessness.”

The ECHR ruled that Sutyagin’s right to a speedy trial had been violated because he was held in remand custody for nearly 4 1/2 years without proper justification and that his right to an impartial trial had been violated because his case was transferred from one judge to another without any explanation.

Sutyagin’s case has been notable for its glacial pace. The charges that he had provided classified information to agents working for the United States were originally filed in October 1999, and he was placed in remand prison at that time.
He sent his appeal to the ECHR in 2002, two years before his trial in Russia finally ended. The Strasbourg court only accepted the appeal six years later — in 2008.

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