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Oct. 27, 2006
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Russia Number One in Human Rights Complaints
// European Court of Human Rights Expands Its Staff to Deal with Caseload
During a speech in Moscow yesterday during an international human rights conference, Lucius Wildhaber, the chairman of the European Court of Human Rights, said that the Strasbourg-based court is expanding the staff of its secretariat by ten percent in part to handle a flood of complaints from Russia. "Every year for the last eight years we have received around 4,000 complaints from Russia. Last year, however, a fifth of the appeals [to the court] came from Russia," he said. Mr. Wildhaber noted that the general volume of complaints addressed to the court is growing as well: the court has received around 34,000 complaints so far this year, a 14% increase over last year.
According to Lyudmila Aleekseeva, the head of the Moscow Helsinki group, "the expansion of the staff of the European Court of Human Rights in the area of Russian specialists began two years ago. Russia came in first in the number of complaints. Our courts don't work, so the European Court of Human Rights has to take their place."

Ms. Alekseeva said that the expansion has meant that cases move through the court much more quickly than they used to. Echoing her, Mr. Wildhaber promised that a complaint of human rights violations committed during the proceedings against ex-Yukos head Mikhail Khodorkovsky, which was sent to him by Mr. Khodorkovsky's lawyers last spring, will be treated as a priority. The complaint accuses the Russian authorities of violating Mr. Khodorkovsky's right to be considered innocent until proven guilty and charges that investigators pressured witnesses. Mr. Khodorkovky's lawyers stressed that his case is being given special weight not because of his former status but because of the serious implications of the rights violations involved. In addition, priority status does not mean that the complaint will be investigated out of turn, only that the investigation will be moved forward as expediently as possible. The only complaints to the court that are treated out of turn are those in which the complainants' life or health is threatened.

Yulia Taratuta, Marina Lenina, and Ekaterina Dudareva

All the Article in Russian as of Oct. 27, 2006

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