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European Court Rules That Russia Violated Right To Free Expression

Stanislav Dmitriyevsky (file photo)

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ordered Russia to pay compensation to a human rights activist, ruling that his hate-crime conviction violated his right to freedom of expression.

The Strasbourg-based court ruled on October 3 in favor of Stanislav Dmitriyevsky, an activist from Nizhny Novgorod.

Dmitriyevsky was tried after he published articles containing statements by Chechen separatist leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Akhmed Zakayev in his newspaper, Pravo-Zashchita (Rights Defense), in 2004.

Local authorities accused him of extremism, and he was convicted of inciting hatred "associated with violence" and handed a suspended two-year prison sentence in 2006.

In its ruling, the ECHR said it found that Russian courts handling his case based their decisions on the conclusions of a linguistic expert, which it said they accepted at face value without examining the merits of her conclusions.

"Overall, in the court's opinion, the views expressed in the articles cannot be read as an incitement to violence, nor could they be construed as instigating hatred or intolerance liable to result in any violence," the ruling said.

The ECHR ruled that Russia violated Dmitriyevsky's right to free expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

It ordered Russia to pay him a total of 13,615 euros ($16,000), including expenses.

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