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The 44-year-old Navalny applied to the ECtHR on January 20, a few days after his arrest. Navalny claimed that his life would be in danger if he was detained.
The Strasbourg-based court today upheld Navalny’s claim and ruled that the Russian authorities should release him.
Russia is a member of the Council of Europe. The ECtHR is one of the bodies of the Council of Europe, and member states of the Council of Europe must comply with the decisions of the ECtHR.
However, Russian Justice Minister Konstantin Chuichenko told Interfax that the ECtHR’s claim was “unfounded and unlawful” and demonstrated “obvious gross interference in the functioning of the sovereign judicial system”.
The Minister added that the claim was unenforceable because “according to Russian law there is no legal basis for releasing the said person from custody”.
Chuichenko also stated that the ECtHR’s claim did not contain “any facts, no legal norms that would allow the court to make such a decision” on the release of Navalny.
Navalny was detained in January at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport after returning from Germany, where he recovered more than four months after being poisoned by the war substance Novichok.
Navalni believes that the Kremlin is behind his poisoning.
The ECtHR based its decision on Article 39 of its Rules of Procedure on interim measures, as it saw a risk to the applicant’s health and life.
In a conversation with the Interfax agency, Olga Mikhailov’s lawyer, Navalny, stated that the ECtHR had made such a decision for the first time and that the Russian authorities had to comply with it.
Navalny has been in custody since January 18. He was detained for violating the terms of a suspended prison sentence imposed in 2014.
Navalny’s arrest sparked widespread protests in Russia, and Western leaders have called on Russia to release the opposition.
In early February, the Simonovo District Court in Moscow, in the so-called “Yves Rocher” case of fraud, replaced the suspended sentence imposed on the opposition in 2014 with a real prison sentence.
The appeal against the decision of the Simonov District Court will take place tomorrow morning. If not overturned by the appellate court, Navalny can be sent to prison to serve his sentence.
In 2017, the ECtHR found that the Yves Rocher fraud case violated the opposition’s right to a fair trial. Navalny was compensated, but the Russian Supreme Court upheld the verdict and refused to change it.