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Russia Likely To Appeal Rulings On Violations In Chechnya

Libkan Bazaeva (right) and Magomed Khashiev wait for their hearing to begin on 14 October 2004. Prague, 25 February 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's representative to the European Court of Human Rights Pavel Laptev said today that the government will most likely appeal three rulings the court handed down yesterday awarding compensation to six residents of Chechnya.

The government has three months during which it can appeal the decisions to the court's Grand Chamber.

The European court ruled that the Russian government had violated the human rights of the plaintiffs and that Russian forces in Chechnya had killed innocent Chechen civilians without being prosecuted, "Vremya novostei" reported on 25 February. The court ordered Russia to pay a total of 135,000 euros ($178,000) to the six plaintiffs. In one case, Grozny residents Magomed Khashiev and Roza Akaeva alleged that their relatives had been tortured and killed during sweeps conducted by federal forces in 2000.

The other two cases pertained to complaints by four plaintiffs who claimed they had been subjected to indiscriminate bombing by Russian aircraft in 1999 and 2000.

The court ruled in favor of Medka Isaeva, Zina Yusupova, and Libkan Bazaeva, who alleged that a Russian air raid in October 1999 near Grozny resulted in personal injury and property loss, and the deaths of two of Isaeva's children. In the third case, Katyr-Yurt resident Zara Isaeva was awarded compensation for the death of her son and three nieces resulting from a bombing conducted by Russian forces in February 2000.

The Russian government argued that bombings were justified military operations, but the court ruled that insufficient care had been taken to protect civilians.

The cases form an important precedent because there are currently about 150 similar appeals pending before the court. "The main thing for us is that the European court has acknowledged that the Russian government actually has violated human rights in Chechnya," Oleg Orlov, a lawyer for the Memorial human rights organization who helped the plaintiffs file the case, told "Vremya novostei" on 25 February. "Now the government can no longer refer to empty gossip or efforts to create a scandal around the conflict in the republic because now there is a legal document that no one can dispute."

The court the same day awarded 3,000 euros each to the families of two Russian servicemen killed in Chechnya and one serviceman who was wounded there, ruling that the Russian government had failed to pay them the benefits for which they are eligible, "Vremya novostei" reported.