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Russia’s Share of European Human Rights Cases Hits 7-Year High

President Vladimir Putin has proposed allowing Russian law to take precedence over international rulings, a clause that experts viewed as targeting the ECHR. ELSA International / Flickr

The share of Russian cases in Europe’s top human rights court has reached a seven-year high in 2019, the Vedomosti business daily reported Wednesday, citing the court’s annual report.

Russia remains the runaway leader in the number of pending cases among the 47 member states that fall under the court’s jurisdiction, according to European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) data. Russia last year accounted for 15,050 out of a total of 59,800 pending cases in the Strasbourg-based court, or one-quarter of all applications.

That percentage is the highest since 2012, when the ECHR tightened its admissibility criteria to clear its backlog, according to Vedomosti.

ECHR president Linos-Alexandre Sicilianos underscored “the scale of the consequences” for would-be applicants in the event that Russia walks out of the court’s jurisdiction. 

“Such an eventuality would have represented a serious setback for human rights in that part of our continent,” Sicilianos said in the court’s annual report.

President Vladimir Putin in 2015 allowed the Russian Constitutional Court to overrule ECHR decisions. His recent constitutional shake-up includes a proposal for Russian law to take precedence over international rulings, a clause that experts viewed as targeting the ECHR.

The ECHR handed out 198 judgments in Russian cases last year, the highest number among its 47 member states.

Experts interviewed by Vedomosti attributed the high share of Russian cases to a “deteriorating” national legal system.

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