CASE OF IVANOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights) 50942/08 and 5 others

The applications concern, among other things, complaints under Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention about alleged ill-treatment of the applicants at the hands of State officials and the lack of a proper investigation in that regard.


THIRD SECTION
CASE OF IVANOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Applications nos. 50942/08 and 5 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
5 July 2022

This judgment is final but it may be subject to editorial revision.

In the case of Ivanov and Others v. Russia,

The European Court of Human Rights (Third Section), sitting as a Committee composed of:

Darian Pavli, President,
Andreas Zünd,
Mikhail Lobov, judges,
and Olga Chernishova, Deputy Section Registrar,

Having regard to:

the applications against the Russian Federation lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) by eight Russian nationals listed in Appendix I (“the applicants”), on the various dates indicated therein;

the decision not to have the applicant’s name disclosed in the case no. 62510/12;

the decisions to give notice of the complaints under Articles 3, 5, 6, 8 and 34 of the Convention to the Russian Government (“the Government”) initially represented by Mr M. Galperin, former Representative of the Russian Federation to the European Court of Human Rights, and lately by his successor in that office, Mr M. Vinogradov, and to declare inadmissible the remainder of the applications;

the parties’ observations;

the decision to reject the Government’s objection to examination of the applications nos. 29330/15 and 13123/16 by a Committee;

Having deliberated in private on 14 June 2022,

Delivers the following judgment, which was adopted on that date:

SUBJECT MATTER OF THE CASE

1. The applications concern, among other things, complaints under Articles 3 and 13 of the Convention about alleged ill-treatment of the applicants at the hands of State officials and the lack of a proper investigation in that regard. The details of the factual circumstances and domestic procedures relevant to each case are listed in Appendix I.

THE COURT’S ASSESSMENT

I. JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS

2. Having regard to the similar subject matter of the applications, the Court finds it appropriate to examine them jointly in a single judgment.

II. Preliminary objections

3. In their additional observations and submissions on just satisfaction in the cases of Mr Aleksandr Knyazkin and Mr Andrey Knyazkin (no. 24592/10) and Mr I.Z. (no. 62510/12) the Government submitted for the first time that the applicants had failed to exhaust domestic remedies.

4. According to the Court’s case-law, any plea of inadmissibility must be raised by the respondent Contracting Party in its written or oral observations on the admissibility of the application (see Khlaifia and Others v. Italy [GC], no. 16483/12, §§ 52-54, 15 December 2016), what the Government failed to do in the cases at hand. Their objection is therefore dismissed.

III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLEs 3 and 13 OF THE CONVENTION

A. Admissibility

5. In the case of Mr I.Z. (no. 62510/12), the Government argued that the applicant was no longer a victim of the alleged violation since the authorities had convicted one of the perpetrators of his ill-treatment.

6. The question at hand is closely linked to the merits of the applicant’s complaint. The Court therefore decides to join this matter to the merits.

7. As regards the remaining complaints, the Court notes that they are neither manifestly ill‑founded nor inadmissible on any other grounds listed in Article 35 of the Convention. They must therefore be declared admissible.

B. Merits

1. The applicants’ allegations of ill-treatment

8. The Court observes that all applicants were arrested by the police on suspicion of their having committed various crimes. After spending different periods of time at the hands of State officers, the applicants were found to have sustained injuries of various degrees, as recorded by forensic medical experts, detention facilities or medical institutions (see Appendix I).

9. The above factors are sufficient to give rise to a presumption in favour of the applicants’ accounts of events and to satisfy the Court that their allegations of ill-treatment were credible.

2. Effectiveness of the investigation into the alleged ill-treatment

10. Firstly, the investigative authorities dismissed the credible allegations of ill-treatment by State officers in the cases of Mr Ivanov (no. 50942/08), Mr Aleksandr Knyazkin and Mr Andrey Knyazkin (no. 24592/10), Mr Krysyuk (no.75186/11) and Mr Demerchyan (no. 29330/15) after summary pre-investigative inquiries. However, in the context of the Russian legal system in cases of credible allegations of treatment proscribed under Article 3 of the Convention, it is incumbent on the authorities to open a criminal case and conduct a fully-fledged criminal investigation (see Lyapin v. Russia, no. 46956/09, §§ 129 and 132‑36, 24 July 2014). The authorities’ refusal to initiate such an investigation is indicative of their failure to comply with its procedural obligation under the above provision. The Court has no reason to hold otherwise in the cases at hand.

11. By contrast, in the remaining two cases the authorities initiated the necessary criminal proceedings. Nevertheless, they were tainted with other shortcomings, which had a serious negative impact on the overall effectiveness of the procedures.

12. In the case of Mr I.Z. (no. 62510/12) the applicant complained of two different episodes of ill-treatment, namely, during his arrest and then at the detention centre. The Court is not convinced by the Government’s argument that Mr I.Z. lost his victim status as one of the perpetrators of his ill-treatment had been convicted. That officer was exempted from serving the sentence as his criminal liability had become time-barred (see Barovov v. Russia, no. 9183/09, §§ 42-44, 15 June 2021). Furthermore, the other officers who had participated in the applicant’s beating were never prosecuted. In any event, similarly to the above cases, no criminal proceedings were initiated on account of the applicant’s credible allegations of ill-treatment at the detention centre.

13. Lastly, in the case of Mr Vyacheslav Piskunov and Mr Gennadiy Piskunov (no. 13123/16) the investigative authorities opened criminal cases into the applicants’ allegations in more than six months and one year respectively after the receipt of the applicants’ first complaints. Such delays could not but have had a significant adverse impact on the investigation (see Razzakov v. Russia, no. 57519/09, § 61, 5 February 2015) which was eventually discontinued. The investigators essentially relied on the statements of the implicated police officers who had denied the allegations and did not take necessary steps to address the medical evidence thus failing to elucidate the cause of the injuries (see Salikhov v. Russia, no. 23880/05, § 104, 3 May 2012).

14. There has, accordingly, been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention under its procedural limb.

3. The Government’s explanations

15. The Government maintained the conclusions of the investigating authorities. In particular, they argued that the applicants’ injuries had not been attributable to the conduct of the police officers or that the application of force had been lawful.

16. Given that the Government’s explanations were provided as a result of superficial domestic inquiries falling short of the requirements of Article 3 of the Convention, the Court finds that they cannot be considered satisfactory or convincing. It holds that in these cases the Government have failed to discharge their burden of proof and produce evidence capable of casting doubt on the account of events provided by the applicants, which it therefore finds established (see Olisov and Others v. Russia, nos. 10825/09 and 2 others, §§ 83-85, 2 May 2017, and Ksenz and Others v. Russia, nos. 45044/06 and 5 others, §§ 102‑04, 12 December 2017).

4. Legal classification of the treatment

17. The applicants alleged that they had been subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment.

18. Having regard to the applicants’ injuries confirmed by medical evidence, the Court concludes that the ill-treatment of Mr I.Z. (no. 62510/12), Mr Demerchyan (29330/15) and Mr Vyacheslav Piskunov (the first applicant in the case no. 13123/16) amounted to torture within the meaning of Article 3 of the Convention. The remaining applicants were subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment.

5. Conclusion

19. There has accordingly been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention under its both substantive and procedural limbs in respect of all of the applicants. In the light of this finding, the Court considers that it is not necessary to examine whether there has also been a violation of Article 13 of the Convention.

IV. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION UNDER THE WELL-ESTABLISHED CASE-LAW

20. Mr Ivanov (no. 50942/08), Mr Andrey Knyazkin (no.24592/10), Mr Krysyuk (no. 75186/11), Mr Vyacheslav Piskunov and Mr Gennadiy Piskunov (no.13123/16) submitted other complaints which also raised issues under the Convention, given the relevant well‑established case-law of the Court (see Appendix II). Those complaints are not manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 (a) of the Convention, nor are they inadmissible on any other ground. Accordingly, they must be declared admissible. Having examined all the material before it, the Court concludes that they also disclose a violation of the Convention in the light of its well‑established case-law (see Yefimenko v. Russia, no. 152/04, §§ 157-60, 12 February 2013; Fortalnov and Others v. Russia, nos. 7077/06 and 12 others, §§ 78-79, 26 June 2018; and Belugin v. Russia, no. 2991/06, §§ 69‑71, 26 November 2019).

V. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS OF THE CONVENTION

21. Lastly, the Court has examined the remaining complaint under Article 6 of the Convention submitted by Mr Aleksandr Knyazkin (the first applicant in the case no. 24592/10) regarding the fairness of the criminal proceedings against him. The Court observes that on 6 June 2019 the Supreme Court of the Republic of Mordovia quashed the applicant’s conviction and remitted the case for a fresh examination to the first-instance court. Those proceedings are still pending. Accordingly, this part of Mr Aleksandr Knyazkin’s application is premature and must be rejected under Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

22. Mr Aleksandr Knyazkin and Mr Andrey Knyazkin (no. 24592/10), made no claims regarding just satisfaction. The remaining applicants claimed various amounts in respect of non-pecuniary damage. Mr Ivanov (no. 50942/08), Mr Demerchyan (no. 29330/15), Mr Vyacheslav Piskunov and Mr Gennadiy Piskunov (no. 13123/16), also claimed costs and expenses.

23. Having regard to the documents in its possession, the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in Appendix II, plus any tax that may be chargeable on those amounts to the applicants.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

1. Decides to join the applications;

2. Declares Mr Aleksandr Knyazkin’s (the first applicant in the case no. 24592/10) complaint under Article 6 of the Convention inadmissible and the remainder of the applications admissible;

3. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 3 of the Convention under its substantive and procedural limbs in respect of all of the applicants;

4. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 5 § 1 of the Convention in respect of Mr Vyacheslav Piskunov and Mr Gennadiy Piskunov (no. 13123/16);

5. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 6 § 1 of the Convention in respect of Mr Ivanov (no. 50942/08) and Mr Andrey Knyazkin (the second applicant in the case no. 24592/10);

6. Holds that there has been a violation of Article 8 of the Convention in respect of Mr Krysyuk (no. 75186/11);

7. Holds that the respondent State has failed to comply with its obligations under Article 34 of the Convention in the case of Mr Krysyuk (no. 75186/11);

8. Holds that there is no need to examine the complaints under Article 13 of the Convention;

9. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in Appendix II, plus any tax that may be chargeable to them. The amounts are to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement. The amounts in respect of costs and expenses should be paid directly into the representatives’ bank account;

(b) that from the expiry of the above-mentioned three months until settlement simple interest shall be payable on the above amounts at a rate equal to the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank during the default period plus three percentage points;

10. Dismisses the remainder of the applicants’ claims for just satisfaction.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 5 July 2022, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Olga Chernishova                    Darian Pavli
Deputy Registrar                     President

_________

APPENDIX I

No. Application no.
Introduction date
Applicant’s name
Year of birth
Nationality
Represented by
Details of the alleged ill‑treatment Medical evidence:

date of examination,

document type,

injuries recorded

Applicants’ complaints about ill‑treatment to the domestic authorities Other relevant information
1. 50942/08

14/08/2008

Mr Aleksey Aleksandrovich IVANOV
1966
Russian
Mr Vladimir Valeryevich VASIN
14/10/2007

Beating following an arrest on the suspicion of murder in Krasnoyarsk. The applicant subsequently confessed

16/10/2007

Forensic medical examination report

numerous bruises and abrasions on the arms, chest and left cheek inflicted with a blunt object between one and four days before the forensic examination

 

 

16/10/2007

First complaint to the investigative authorities

01/09/2008

Latest refusal to open a criminal case

03/02/2009

Krasnoyarsk Regional Court

 

On 01/09/2008 the Tsentralniy District Court in Krasnoyarsk convicted the applicant of murder and sentenced him to ten years of imprisonment. It relied on his confession statement of 15/10/2007 and rejected his complaint that he had signed the confession as a result of the beatings by the police officers. On 23/10/2008 the Krasnoyarsk Regional Court upheld the conviction on appeal.
2. 24592/10

09/04/2010

1) Mr Aleksandr Nikolayevich KNYAZKIN
1978
Russian
2) Mr Andrey Nikolayevich KNYAZKIN1985
Russian
Mr Aleksandr Mikhaylovich PLODUKHIN
10/05/2009

Beating and violent threats following an arrest on the suspicion of murder in Saransk. The applicants subsequently confessed

13/05/2009

Two forensic medical examination reports in respect of each applicant

the first applicant, Mr Al. Knyazkin: abrasions on the left shoulder and left shin inflicted with a blunt object possibly on 09/05/2009

The second applicant, Mr An. Knyazkin: abrasions on the face, neck, right shin and a bruise on the left shoulder inflicted with a blunt object possibly on 09/05/2009.

22/06/2009

Hospital medical examination act

The first applicant, Mr Al.Knyazkin: cerebral trauma

25/05/2009

First complaint to the investigative authorities

23/11/2009

Latest refusal to open a criminal case

29/09/2009

Chamzinskiy District Court of the Mordovia Republic

 

On 29/06/2010 the Atyashevskiy District Court in Mordovia convicted the second applicant, Mr An. Knyazkin, of murder and sentenced him to ten years of imprisonment. It relied on his confession statement of 10/05/2009 and rejected his complaint that he had signed the confession as a result of his beatings by the police officers. On 27/10/2010 the Supreme Court of the Mordovia Republic upheld the conviction on appeal. Following a supervisory review, the Supreme Court of the Mordovia Republic reaffirmed the conviction.
3. 75186/11

04/03/2013

Mr Aleksandr Viktorovich KRYSYUK
1971
Russian
Not legally represented
01/07/2010

Beating during an arrest in Sharypovo, the Krasnoyarsk Region. A police officer applied electric shock.

02/07/2010

Medical examination act at a temporary detention centre

a bruise in the area of the left eye and abrasions on the chest

02/07/2010

Forensic medical examination report

a thermal burn on the left cheekbone caused by an impact of high temperature. It could have possibly been a result of an electric shock or a fall and intense contact with an abrasive surface. Abrasions on the chest. The injuries were inflicted between one and three days before the examination

02/07/2010

First complaint to the investigative authorities

13/09/2013

Latest refusal to open a criminal case

 

On 26/09/2012 the applicant, being in detention, received a letter from the Court. The envelope was opened by the administration of the temporary detention centre.
On 16/10/2012 the Sharypovskiy Town Court in the Krasnoyarsk Region rejected the applicant’s complaint and found that the opening of the envelope was in accordance with internal regulations of the temporary detention centre.
4. 62510/12

20/09/2012

Mr I.Z.
1985
Russian
Ms Karinna Akopovna MOSKALENKO
01/09/2009

Beating during an arrest in Moscow

Since 30/10/2009

Beating in remand prison by a cellmate allegedly incited by police officers

01/09/2009

Medical examination act at a trauma centre

a crush injury of the right testicle; it was subsequently amputated

26/11/2009

Hospital medical examination act

a closed craniocerebral injury, brain concussion, abrasions on the face and bruises on the chest

03/09/2009

First complaint to the investigative authorities regarding the ill‑treatment during the arrest

12/02/2010

First complaint to the investigative authorities regarding the ill‑treatment at the SIZO

01/06/2011

Latest refusal to open a criminal case

06/11/2009

Criminal case opened regarding the allegations of ill‑treatment during the arrest

30/11/2011

One officer convicted of causing serious bodily harm to the applicant and sentenced to one year of imprisonment but exempted from its service due to the expiration of the statutory time-limit

24/07/2013

Moscow City Court

5. 29330/15

 

03/06/2015

Mr Mardiros Arutovich DEMERCHYAN

1975

Russian

Ms Darya Sergeyevna PIGOLEVA 

12/06/2013

Beating following an arrest on suspicion of theft in Sochi.

Police officers also allegedly

inserted an iron bar into the applicant’s anus. He eventually confessed

13/06/2013

Hospital medical examination act

brain concussion, head and chest contusions

15/06/2013

Proctology medical examination act

healing micro-tears of the anus; it was not clear whether the injuries

had been sustained in the circumstances described by the applicant

17/06/2013 and 01/07/2013

Forensic medical examination reports based on medical documents

a bruise on the lower left eyelid and fractures of left teeth of the upper jaw caused with blunt objects between five and ten days before the examination

13/06/2013

First complaint to the investigative authorities

03/10/2013

Latest refusal to open a criminal case against the officers

03/12/2014

Krasnodar Regional Court

 

13/07/2013

Criminal case opened against the applicant on suspicion of false accusation of the police officers

17/12/2014

The Adlerskiy District Court in Sochi found applicant guilty of false accusation

02/04/2015

The Krasnodar Regional Court quashed this judgment on appeal and remitted the case to the prosecutor for a fresh investigation

 

6. 13123/16

 

23/02/2016

1) Mr Vyacheslav Nikolayevich PISKUNOV

1973

Russian

2) Mr Gennadiy Nikolayevich PISKUNOV

1973

Russian

Alexey Nikolayevich LAPTEV

23/06/2013

The applicants arrested at around 10.30 a.m. in Saransk on the suspicion of murder.

At a police station one of the officers handcuffed the first applicant, Mr V. Piskunov, kicked him in the groin and squeezed his testicles. He also suffocated the applicant with a plastic bag and tied a belt around the applicant’s knee and pulled it over his neck. Another officer beat the applicant with a heavy item on the kidney area.

Other officers handcuffed the second applicant, Mr G. Piskunov, and beat him on different parts of the body.

The applicants subsequently confessed.

24/06/2013

The results of the medical examination of the first applicant, Mr V. Piskunov, at the temporary detention centre

closed injury of the scrotum on the left side and a ruptured left testicle

25/06/2013

The results of hospital medical examination of the first applicant, Mr V. Piskunov

a closed injury of the scrotum, haematocele on the left side and ruptured left testicle

25/06/2013 and 22/10/2013

Forensic medical examination report of the first applicant, Mr V. Piskunov

bruises on the breastbone, right shoulder and left hip, abrasions on the loins and shins inflicted with a blunt object no more than between twelve and six days prior to the examination; a ruptured left testicle with a haematocele on the left side, which could have been inflicted on 23/06/2013

02/07/2013 and 05//05/2014

Forensic medical examination report of the second applicant, Mr G. Piskunov

a bruise on the groin and an abrasion on the right shin which could have been inflicted on 23/06/2013

23/09/2013

First complaint to the investigative authorities

02/04/2014

Criminal proceedings initiated on account of the first applicant’s allegations

26/09/2014

Criminal proceedings initiated on account of the second applicant’s allegations

02/03/2015

The criminal proceedings discontinued for lack of corpus delicti

24/08/2015

Supreme Court of the Mordovia Republic

 

 

On 23/06/2013 a record of the applicants’ administrative arrest was drawn up at 9 p.m., that is more than ten hours after the arrest. According to the document, the applicants had no visible injuries and were released at 9.40 a.m. the next day. Yet, the Government did not contest the applicants’ allegation that they, in fact, had never been released.

On 24/06/2013 at 4.55 p.m. in respect of the second applicant and 6.35 p.m. in respect of the first applicant the investigator drew up the records of their arrest as suspects.

APPENDIX II

Other complaints under the well-established case-law and just satisfaction

No. Case name

Application no.

 

Other complaints under well‑established case-law Amount awarded for non- pecuniary damage Amount awarded for costs and expenses
1. Ivanov v. Russia

50942/08

 

 

Article 6 § 1. The applicant’s conviction was based on the confession dated 15 October 2007 obtained in violation of Article 3 of the Convention. Domestic courts failed to conduct a comprehensive review of his credible allegations in that regard (see Belugin v. Russia, no. 2991/06, § 71, 26 November 2019). EUR 26,000

(twenty six thousand euros)

EUR 2,100

(two thousand one hundred euros)

2. Knyazkiny v. Russia

24592/10

Article 6 § 1 (in respect of the second applicant, Mr An. Knyazkin). The applicant’s conviction was based on the confession dated 10 May 2009 obtained in violation of Article 3 of the Convention. Domestic courts failed to conduct a comprehensive review of his credible allegations in that regard (see Belugin v. Russia, no. 2991/06, § 71, 26 November 2019).
3 Krysyuk v. Russia

75186/11

Articles 8 and 34. The Court’s letter was opened by the temporary detention centre’s administration. That constituted un unjustified interference with the exercise of the applicant’s right to individual petition (see Yefimenko v. Russia, no. 152/04, §§ 158-60, 12 February 2013 and Shekhov v. Russia, no. 12440/04, §§ 60-63, 19 June 2014). EUR 26,000

(twenty six thousand euros)

4. I.Z. v. Russia

62510/12

EUR 52,000

(fifty two thousand euros)

5. Demerchyan v. Russia

29330/15

EUR 52,000

(fifty two thousand euros)

EUR 3,600

(three thousand six hundred euros)

6. Piskunovy v. Russia

13123/16

Article 5 § 1. Unrecorded time periods of the applicants’ detention: 1) on 23 June 2013 between the applicants’ first arrest at around 10.30 a.m. and the drawing up of their arrest records at 9 p.m.; 2) on 24 June 2013 between 9 a.m. and their formal arrest as suspects at 6.35 p.m. (first applicant) and 4.55 p.m. (second applicant) (see Fortalnov and Others v. Russia, nos. 7077/06 and 12 others, § 78-79, 26 June 2018). EUR 52,000

(fifty two thousand euros) (to the first applicant, Mr V. Piskunov)

EUR 26,000 (twenty six thousand euros)

(to the second applicant, Mr G. Piskunov)

EUR 17

(seventeen euros), jointly

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