This week European court of human rights has stated that authorities of the Russian Federation had violated freedom of expression by means of blocking websites in Russia in recent years. Some of them were operated by opponents of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin.
There were four separate cases. According to the applicants the blocking of access to their websites had been unlawful, and the Russian courts had failed to consider the substance of their complaints.
The ECHR judges ruled unanimously that actions by the telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor “had amounted to interference with the applicants’ right to impart information and the public’s right to receive it.”
One of the cases was concerned of one of Putin’s most vocal critics, Garry Kasparov. It was in March 2014 that his opposition website kasparov.ru was blocked because of accusations of promoting “mass disorder or extremist speech.”
The other five applicants stated about unfair treatment or indiscriminate actions to shut down their sites.
In each case, the court has come to a conclusion that “the provisions of Russia’s Information Act used to block the specified websites had produced excessive and arbitrary effects.”
It has ordered Russia to pay each applicant 10,000 euros (ten thousand euros) in damages.
It should be pointed out that Garry Kasparov had already won two cases against Russia at the European court of human rights in 2016. Back then judges unanimously held that the government of Russia violated the rights of Garri Kasparov, a political activist and well-known chess player.