CASE OF MERZLYAKOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA (European Court of Human Rights) 63219/17 and 9 others

The applicants complained of the excessive length of their pre-trial detention. Some applicants also raised other complaints under the provisions of the Convention.


THIRD SECTION
CASE OF MERZLYAKOV AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA
(Applications nos. 63219/17 and 9 others – see appended list)
JUDGMENT
STRASBOURG
15 September 2022

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

In the case of Merzlyakov 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 Viktoriya Maradudina, Acting Deputy Section Registrar,

Having deliberated in private on 25 August 2022,

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

PROCEDURE

1. The case originated in applications against Russia lodged with the Court under Article 34 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (“the Convention”) on the various dates indicated in the appended table.

2. The Russian Government (“the Government”) were given notice of the applications.

THE FACTS

3. The list of applicants and the relevant details of the applications are set out in the appended table.

4. The applicants complained of the excessive length of their pre-trial detention. Some applicants also raised other complaints under the provisions of the Convention.

THE LAW

I. JOINDER OF THE APPLICATIONS

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

II. UnilAteral declaration and Standing issue in application no. 58132/18

6. In July 2020 the applicant, Ms O. Popova (application no. 58132/18), died. Her ex-husband, Mr Slivin, wanted to participate in the proceedings before the Court as her heir.

7. On 3 March 2021 the Government submitted a unilateral declaration in application no. 58132/18, with a view to resolving the issues raised by the applicant, in which they acknowledged a violation of the applicant’s rights under Article 5 § 3.

8. On 23 March 2021, after they had been informed about the applicant’s death, the Government submitted that Mr Slivin may not pursue the proceedings before the Court as the applicant’s heir. They thus withdrew the unilateral declaration.

9. The Court considers that the applicant’s ex-husband has a legitimate interest in taking the applicant’s place (see Dalban v. Romania [GC], no. 28114/95, §§ 1 and 39, ECHR 1999 VI, and Ernestina Zullo v. Italy [GC], no. 64897/01, § 37, 29 March 2006). The applicant had close relations with Mr Slivin who had supported her during her imprisonment. She also mentioned him as her only heir in her will (see, for similar reasoning, Magnitskiy and Others v. Russia, nos. 32631/09 and 53799/12, § 176, 27 August 2019, with further references, and Ivantsov and Others v. Russia [Committee], nos. 20509/17 and 9 others, § 7, 23 June 2022). The Court, therefore, rejects the Government’s objection in this respect.

10. Accordingly, the Court holds that Mr Slivin has standing to continue the present proceedings.

III. ALLEGED VIOLATION OF ARTICLE 5 § 3 OF THE CONVENTION

11. The applicants complained principally that their pre-trial detention had been unreasonably long. They relied on Article 5 § 3 of the Convention, which reads as follows:

Article 5 § 3

“3. Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be … entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.”

12. The Court observes that the general principles regarding the right to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial, as guaranteed by Article 5 § 3 of the Convention, have been stated in a number of its previous judgments (see, among many other authorities, Kudła v. Poland [GC], no. 30210/96, § 110, ECHR 2000‑XI, and McKay v. the United Kingdom [GC], no. 543/03, §§ 41-44, ECHR 2006‑X, with further references).

13. In the leading case of Dirdizov v. Russia, no. 41461/10, 27 November 2012, the Court already found a violation in respect of issues similar to those in the present cases.

14. Having examined all the material submitted to it, the Court has not found any fact or argument capable of persuading it to reach a different conclusion on the admissibility and merits of these complaints. Having regard to its case-law on the subject, the Court considers that in the instant cases the length of the applicants’ pre-trial detention was excessive.

15. These complaints are therefore admissible and disclose a breach of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention.

IV. OTHER ALLEGED VIOLATIONS UNDER WELL-ESTABLISHED CASE-LAW

16. In applications nos. 44311/20, 45833/20, 46036/20, 24320/21 and 27500/21, the applicants submitted other complaints which also raised issues under the Convention, given the relevant well-established case-law of the Court (see appended table). These 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 violations of the Convention in the light of its findings in Idalov v. Russia [GC], no. 5826/03, §§ 154-58, 22 May 2012, as regards lengthy review of detention matters; Svinarenko and Slyadnev v. Russia [GC], nos. 32541/08 and 43441/08, ECHR 2014 (extracts), concerning detention in a metal cage during court hearings; and Korshunov v. Russia, no. 38971/06, 25 October 2007, related to the lack of an enforceable right to compensation for detention which has been found to be in violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention.

V. APPLICATION OF ARTICLE 41 OF THE CONVENTION

17. Article 41 of the Convention provides:

“If the Court finds that there has been a violation of the Convention or the Protocols thereto, and if the internal law of the High Contracting Party concerned allows only partial reparation to be made, the Court shall, if necessary, afford just satisfaction to the injured party.”

18. Regard being had to the documents in its possession and to its case‑law (see, in particular, Pastukhov and Yelagin v. Russia, no. 55299/07, 19 December 2013), the Court considers it reasonable to award the sums indicated in the appended table.

19. The Court further considers it appropriate that the default interest rate should be based on the marginal lending rate of the European Central Bank, to which should be added three percentage points.

FOR THESE REASONS, THE COURT, UNANIMOUSLY,

1. Decides to join the applications;

2. Holds that Mr Slivin has locus standi under Article 34 of the Convention to continue the proceedings in Ms O. Popova’s stead (application no. 58132/18);

3. Declares the applications admissible;

4. Holds that these applications disclose a breach of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention concerning the excessive length of pre-trial detention;

5. Holds that there has been a violation of the Convention as regards the other complaints raised under well-established case-law of the Court (see appended table);

6. Holds

(a) that the respondent State is to pay the applicants, within three months, the amounts indicated in the appended table, to be converted into the currency of the respondent State at the rate applicable at the date of settlement;

(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.

Done in English, and notified in writing on 15 September 2022, pursuant to Rule 77 §§ 2 and 3 of the Rules of Court.

Viktoriya Maradudina                            Darian Pavli
Acting Deputy Registrar                          President

__________

APPENDIX
List of applications raising complaints under Article 5 § 3 of the Convention
(excessive length of pre-trial detention)

No. Application no.
Date of introduction
Applicant’s name
Year of birth
 
Representative’s name and location Period of detention Court which issued detention order/examined appeal Length of detention Specific defects Other complaints under well-established case-law Amount awarded for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage and costs and expenses per applicant
(in euros)[i]
1. 63219/17
22/08/2017
Vadim Aleksandrovich MERZLYAKOV
1981
Khrunova Irina Vladimirovna
Kazan
08/02/2017 to
29/09/2017
Sovetskiy District Court of Kazan, Supreme Court of the Tatarstan Republic 7 month(s) and 22 day(s) Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts; failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding
use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice
failure to examine the possibility of applying other measures of restraint
economic crime
1,000
2. 58132/18
26/11/2018
Olga Viktorovna POPOVA
1974
Heir
Anatoliy Alekseyvich SLIVIN
1947
Motchenko Lina Fedorovna
Nevinnomyssk
28/06/2018 to
16/10/2018
Leninskiy District Court of Stavropol; Stavropol Regional Court 3 month(s) and
9 day(s)
Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts, use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice
failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding
failure to examine the possibility of applying other measures of restraint
1,000,
to be paid to Mr Slivin
3. 28948/20
08/10/2020
Igor Nikolayevich NIKOLAYENKO
1968
16/01/2020
pending
Kuybyshevskiy District Court of St Petersburg, St Petersburg City Court More than
2 year(s) and
5 month(s) and
14 day(s)
Use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice;
failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding;
failure to examine the possibility of applying other measures of restraint
2,600
4. 30369/20
18/06/2020
Svetlana Mikhaylovna TITORENKO
1971
14/11/2018 to
16/12/2020
Leninskiy District Court of Stavropol, Nevinnomyssk Town Court of the Stavropol Region, Stavropol Region Court 1 year(s) and
4 month(s) and
2 day(s)
Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts; use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice;
the applicant was charged with a “white collar” crime, collective detention orders
1,500
5. 44311/20
13/09/2020
Sergey Sergeyevich VYALOV
1989
Morozov Roman Dmitriyevich
Moscow
21/04/2020
pending
Meshchanskiy District Court of Moscow, Moscow City Court More than
2 year(s) and
2 month(s) and
10 day(s)
Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts, failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding, use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice;

failure to examine the possibility of applying other measures of restraint

Art. 5 (4) – excessive length of judicial review of detention – detention order of the Meshchanskiy District Court of Moscow of 22/04/2020 was upheld on appeal on 25/06/2020 by the Moscow City Court. 2,800
6. 45833/20

28/09/2020

Viktor Valeryevich KULAGIN

1999

Denisov Dmitriy Arkadyevich

Astrakhan

20/04/2019 to

06/07/2020

Trusovskiy District Court of Astrakhan; Astrakhan Regional Court 1 year(s) and

2 month(s) and

17 day(s)

 

Use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice;

failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding, failure to examine the possibility of applying other measures of restraint;

fragility of the reasons employed by the courts

Art. 3 – use of metal cages and/or other security arrangements in courtrooms – placement in a metal cage during hearings before the Trusovskiy District Court of Astrakhan; Astrakhan Regional Court since 22/09/2019 and until conviction (and appeal against the conviction) in 2020 (Svinarenko and Slyadnevv. Russia [GC], nos. 32541/08 and 43441/08, ECHR 2014 (extracts)),

Art. 13 – lack of any effective remedy in domestic law in respect of placement in a metal cage during court hearings.

9,750
7. 46036/20

28/09/2020

Mikhail Vladimirovich POPOV

1983

Anikina Natalya Anatolyevna

Moscow

28/09/2017 to

21/10/2021

Cheremushkinskiy District Court of Moscow, Moscow City Court 4 year(s) and

24 day(s)

 

Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts, use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice;

failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding, failure to examine the possibility of applying other measures of restraint

Art. 5 (5) – lack of, or inadequate compensation, for the violation of Article 5 § 3 of the Convention 4,100
8. 46256/20

05/10/2020

Ruslan Mullanurovich SAFIN

1990

 

 

22/08/2017

pending

Vakhitovskiy District Court of Kazan; Supreme Court of Tatarstan Republic More than

4 year(s) and

10 month(s) and 6 day(s)

Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts, failure to assess the applicant’s personal situation reducing the risks of re-offending, colluding or absconding, failure to conduct the proceedings with due diligence during the period of detention 5,000
9. 24320/21

13/04/2021

Ali Odey ADZHINA

1972

Khrunova Irina Vladimirovna

Kazan

11/06/2019

pending

Tverskoy District Court of Moscow, First Appellate Court of Common Jurisdiction More than

3 year(s) and

17 day(s)

 

Use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice;

fragility of the reasons employed by the courts; failure to conduct the proceedings with due diligence during the period of detention

Art. 5 (4) – excessive length of judicial review of detention – Moscow City Court, 08/09/2020, First Appellate Court, 20/10/2020;

Moscow City Court 02/12/2020, First Appellate Court, 26/01/2021

3,600
10. 27500/21

30/04/2021

Bekkhan Sayd-Aliyevich ISRAILOV

1980

Golub Olga Viktorovna

Suzemka

21/12/2019 to

01/03/2021

10/06/2021 to

16/09/2021

Zamoskvoretskiy District Court of Moscow, Moscow City Court 1 year(s) and

2 month(s) and

9 day(s)

3 month(s) and

7 day(s)

Fragility of the reasons employed by the courts; use of assumptions, in the absence of any evidentiary basis, of the risks of absconding or obstructing justice Art. 5 (4) – excessive length of judicial review of detention – Zamoskvoretskiy District Court of Moscow, 15/10/2020

Moscow City Court, 04/02/2020.

2,100

[i] Plus any tax that may be chargeable to the applicants.

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