Ukraine Sues Russia in European Court over ‘Targeted Assassinations’

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.

Denis Malyuska, Ukraine’s justice minister, confirmed on Tuesday that the country had opened the new case against Russia.

“The scenario when a large neighbour … is busy bullying smaller neighbours is quite typical,” Malyuska added on Facebook, describing Russia as “brazen, arrogant and aggressive”.

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.”

It is the ninth case taken by Ukraine against Russia at the ECHR, which hears complaints over alleged breaches of the European Convention on Human Rights.

“We have finally done this,” said Ivan Lishchyna, Ukraine’s deputy justice minister and a commissioner for the rights court. “We tried to cover all cases for which there is solid evidence of Russian involvement.”.

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.”

Ukraine argues that they constitute an infringement of the right to life, which is protected by the Convention on Human Rights, to which Russia is a signatory.

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.

The case on the human rights violations in Crimea was declared partly admissible by the Grand Chamber of the Court on January 14.

A Grand Chamber judgment on the case will be delivered at a later date, according to court documents. The other three cases are still to be reviewed by branches of the court.

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.