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    The Committee of Ministers of the Council of the European Council had heavily criticized the non-compliance with the Strasbourg Court verdict on Khodorkovsky and Pichugin by Russian authorities | 13 Mar 2017

    KommersantThe Committee of Ministers of the European Council had subjected to heavy critic the non-compliance of Russian authorities with the ECHR verdict concerning the YUKOS case, as well as ex-CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a lifetime convict Alexey Pichugin, former head of the Economic Security Section. The most acute and urgent question is the sanction by the Russian Constitutional Court of non-payment of the 1.9 billion of compensation ruled by ECHR th the ex-shareholders of YUKOS. However, the European Council still hopes to extract at least 300.000 for judicial costs from the Russian Federation.

    The session of the Committee of Ministers concerning the supervision of the execution of ECHR verdicts touched the most urgent question as to the date, that is, the refusal of the Russian authorities to pay 1.9 billion of compensation ruled by ECHR th the ex-shareholders of YUKOS, the payment decided by the ECHR in 2014 for serious infringement of the Convention of Human Rights. The non-compliance of that scale had been sanctioned by the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation for the first time in the history of Council of Europe in January 2016. In March of the same year Mr. Philippe Boillat, Director for Human Rights and Rule of Law of the Council of Europe had even paid a visit to Valery Zorkin, Chief Justice of the CC. The Council spokesmen had said nothing on the subject, nor did they deliver any comment whatsoever to the Kommersant on the results of the visit. The website of the Constitutional Court affirms that the meeting in question took place «upon request of the European Council»; further it says that Mr. Boillat only «indirectly» touched the whole YUKOS subject, while at the same time had «highly appreciated» the role of the Court in the implementation of ECHR verdicts in Russian legal system and the «search of the adequate solution».

    The Committee of Ministers is deeply concerned with the fact that the ECHR verdict on YUKOS «has not been implemented yet», stressing the «unconditional pledge» of the Russian Federation relating to the compliance with the ECHR verdicts; the CM had scheduled to discuss the subject again in September. The Resolution adopted by the Council stresses that the Constitutional Court had vetoed the payment of compensation on YUKOS case, «abstained from discussion of reimbursement of the judicial costs» of estimated 300.000 as calculated by the ECHR. This payment might be made as the «adequate solution» discussed by Messrs. Boillat and Zorkin previously and mentioned again in the Resolution.

    It should be remarked that Pierce Gardner, YUKOS spokesman in ECHR, had sent a memorandum to Strasbourg complaining that the positions of the YUKOS shareholders had been totally ignored by the Constitutional Court. He urged the Committee of Ministers to adopt a harsh resolution where it should be stated that the verdict of the Constitutional Court «is utterly incompatible with the pledge made by Russia and puts the whole Convention system in jeopardy». The Ministry of Justice that sent the translation of the verdict to Strasbourg saying in the attached letter that the verdict is compulsory to all the authorities in Russia.

    The payments related with YUKOS are also mentioned in another resolution of the Committee of Ministers where the body expresses concern with the extraction of 10.000 paid as compensation to Mikhail Khodorkovsky by ECHR verdict in order to compensate his rights violated during the investigation, trial and implementation of the court ruling. The amount in question had been withheld and transferred to the State coffers as payment of the 17 billion Rubles of allegedly overdue taxes. The ECHR states that the amount of taxes has been considered arbitrary and with no legal fundaments appealing to the Russian authorities not to claim any overdue taxes or other payments from ex-CEO of YUKOS.

    Meanwhile the authorities had paid back the compensation of 9.500 to Alexey Pichugin, lifetime convict ex-Head of Economic Security Section of YUKOS convicted as alleged mastermind of several counts of murder; the compensation had been paid for violation of the right of fair trial towards him. Mrs. Xenia Kostromina, Pichugins defender told Kommersant that the bailiffs had previously frozen his bank account in order to pay back the long-settled debt caused by the civil claim by the victims of the criminal case. Besides, as the bailiff agency informed the defense, the archives that could attest the settlement of the debt in 2007 had been destroyed and therefore the account could not be unfrozen. After repeated requests sent by the Committee of Ministers, however, the account had been suddenly unfrozen without explanation, said Mrs. Kosromina.

    However, the Resolution of the Committee of Ministers says that the payment of compensation does not resolve the question of implementation of the ECHR verdict in the part concerning the restoration of the right to fair trial guaranteed to the convict. Due to the fact that the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation had not repealed the sentence instigating the trial de novo, the convict still remains behind bars. The Committee of Ministers appeals to Russia and urges the country to mend the violations discovered by the ECHR. The defense also remarks that it must entail the repeal of the sentence to Alexey Pichugin; aside that, another motion sent by him and already communicated by the ECHR still awaits reaction.

    «Komersant», Anna Pushkarskaya, Saint Petersburg

    Translated by Alexey Uelsky

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