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Georgia Files Case against Russia over Human Rights Abuses

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, September 23
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held a hearing of an inter-state application lodged by Georgia against Russia in connection to the August, 2008 war. This is the second inter-state case filed by Georgia against Russia at ECHR apart of 2,000 war-related individual applications pending. “The Russian Federation is responsible for violating human rights and conducting illegal military activities on the Georgian territories in 2008,” Tina Burjaliani the First Deputy Minister of Justice said on Thursday.

Georgia appealed to the Strasbourg-based court on August 11, 2008, a day before the ceasefire agreement was signed with Russia and the final, formal inter-state application was filed in February, 2009 alleging that Russian military forces and separatist forces under their control carried out indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks against civilians and their property in breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Georgia accused Russia of breaking eight clauses of the European Convention on Human Rights: the right to life; prohibition of torture and of inhuman or degrading treatment; right to liberty and security; right to respect for private and family life; right to an effective remedy; protection of property; right to education and freedom of movement.

Dismissing all allegations and calling them unjustified and not confirmed by “admissible evidence,” Russia claims its innocence. According to the Russian Deputy Minister of Justice, Giorgi Matyuskin, the Russian military forces did not start attacks but on the contrary defended the civilian population of South Ossetia against a Georgian offensive. “The Russian peacekeepers acted within international law and tried to avoid any conflict or crime. As soon as we assured our citizens wouldn’t face any danger the intervention stopped,” Matyuskin told the court stressing that the Russian side had been following all the points of the Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement.

Commenting on her Russian counterpart’s statement Tina Burjaliani emphasized that the aggression had been carried out by Russian militarists especially against the ethnic Georgian population. “The arguments we have heard from the Russian politicians are not new for anyone while the international community knows very well that it was Georgia that became the victim of Russian aggression in 2008,” Burjaliani stated. Meanwhile the ECHR judges will decide whether the Georgian-Russian case can move to the next stage of decisions or not, but Ben Emerson lawyer for the Georgian side hoped that the court would soon announce further discussions.