Russia Update: European Court of Human Rights Rules That Russia Must Compensate Bolotnaya Demonstrator

January 5, 2016
Demonstrators on Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012. The banner says "Crooks and Thieves Return the Elections!" Photo by Stanislav Sedov/

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia must pay a total of 32,000 euros ($34,385) in compensation to a demonstrator who was wrongfully arrested.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

Recent Translations:
The Non-Hybrid War
Kashin Explains His ‘Letter to Leaders’ on ‘Fontanka Office’
TV Rain Interviews Volunteer Fighter Back from Donbass
‘I Was on Active Duty’: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov


Chechen University Teacher Found Dead After Disappearance

Caucasian Knot reported this week that Khizir Yezhiev, a teacher at the Grozny State Technical University was found dead on January 1. Yezhiev, a teacher of economics, was reported to have been kidnapped on December 19, 2015 by his students, who sent out notices over social media and mobile phones. But university officials and the Interior Ministry did not confirm that he was kidnapped.
Asem Malsagov, head of the Public Chamber of the Chechen Republic, wrote on his Facebook page that Yezhiev’s body had been found in a forest near the village of Roshni-Chu and had been positively identified. He was said to have died ‘as a result of falling from a cliff” according to the police report, a copy of which was obtained by Kheda Saratov, head of the Obyektiv, the Chechen news agency.  Saratova said police had a report from a woodsman that a corpse was spotted in the forest on December 31, but were unable to reach the area.
Yezhiev’s funeral was held January 3 in the town of Andreyevskaya Dolina. Caucasian Knot was unable to get any more information from the family or police, and noted that no official notice of the case was on the Interior Ministry’s web site.

A reader of the article at Caucasian Knot with the nickname “Nokh” (the name Chechens give themselves) wrote that he did not know Yezhiev, but had received a text message with his wife’s desperate plea regarding his kidnapping. He noted that she appealed openly to Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, and gave her name and number of children, which indicated that she had faith in him and in the innocence of her husband.

Even so, this reader denied that police could be responsible for abductions and claimed Chechnya was now much safer than in the past — although he acknowledged that with police “standing guard on almost every street” and the “situation completely controlled by law-enforcement agencies,” how can someone be kidnapped?

He further asks why university authorities and police appeared to do nothing, and no one sounded the alarm. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Google Corrects Ukrainian Translation of “Russian Federation” as “Mordor”
Google has corrected a translation within its automatic service at which was automatically translating “Russian Federation,” in the Ukrainian language, to “Mordor,” the evil realm in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and the last name “Lavrov,” as in the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as “sad horse,” reported.
“Mordor” was visible for some hours yesterday and regional media such as covered it.

2016-01-05 18:10:04

RBC learned from a spokesman at the Google press office that the translation was “automatic” and “used only algorithms” and no people were involved. The system uses translations from millions of documents to select the most frequent usage.
Google said it tries to fix incorrect translations as soon as they learn about them.
We note, however, that users likely used an option of the service that enables translators to suggest a better translation. If enough users input a term, the automatic systems may adopt it before humans have time to intervene.

Google mistranslations have worked in the other direction as well. In August 2015, Google Translate was rendering the Ukrainian phrase “revolution of dignity,” referring to the Maidan Revolution, as “political crisis in Ukraine.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

European Court of Human Rights Rules That Russia Must Compensate Bolotnaya Demonstrator 32,000 Euros
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia must pay a total of 32,000 euros ($34,385) in compensation to a demonstrator who was wrongfully arrested, Novaya Gazeta reported, citing the ECHR site.
Yevgeny Frumkin was detained along with many others at an anti-Putin march on May 6, 2012. He was accused of “interfering with transportation and not fulfilling police orders to vacate a train.” He was sentenced to 15 days of arrest, but his appeal failed and he decided to file a complaint to Strasbourg.
But in his defense, Frumkin said he was detained at another location where there was no crush of crowds or clashes with police.
The ECHR ruled that he should be compensated both for his arrest for the sum of 25,000 euros and 7,000 euros for his court costs.  

Dozens of demonstrators were arrested and charged with disobeying orders after riot police themselves unexpectedly blocked a passageway to Bolotnaya Square in Moscow where demonstrators believed their permit entitled them to demonstrate. The authorities used the pretext of the march to search the homes of numerous opposition activists and subject them to trial. 

At least 27 people were sentenced to terms up to 4.5 years; some fled the country and one committed suicide abroad.

More than three years after the demonstration, investigators have continued to round up participants; the latest man sentenced, who had attended the demonstration with his father, was not involved in the opposition before the protest. 

This is not the first time the ECHR has ruled in favor of a Russian plaintiff and awarded compensation; sometimes these fees have even been paid by the Russian government although they have not exonerated the convicted person. 
But recently Russia ruled that international law no longer takes precedent over domestic law, and President Vladimir Putin decreed that Russian courts no longer have to heed the rulings of international courts.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick