FIRST SECTION

DECISION

AS TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF

Application no. 26064/02 
by Maryam Khasanovna ATABAYEVA and Others 
against Russia

The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 7 June 2007 as a Chamber composed of:

Mr C.L. Rozakis, President
 Mr L. Loucaides
 Mrs N. Vajić
 Mr A. Kovler
 Mrs E. Steiner
 Mr K. Hajiyev, 
 Mr D. Spielmann, judges
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,

Having regard to the above application lodged with the European Commission of Human Rights on 28 June 2002,

Having regard to the decision to grant priority to the above application under Rule 41 of the Rules of Court.

Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government and the observations in reply submitted by the applicants,

Having deliberated, decides as follows:

THE FACTS

The applicants are Ms Maryam Khasanovna Atabayeva, born in 1973 and her three daughters – Ms Radima Ramzanovna Kukuyeva, born in 1993, Ms Makka Ramzanovna Kukuyeva, born in 1996, and Ms Markha Ramzanovna Kukuyeva, born in 1998. The applicants are Russian nationals and live in the village of Tsa-Vedeno, Chechnya. They are represented before the Court by lawyers of the Stichting Russian Justice Initiative (“the SRJI”), an NGO based in the Netherlands with a representative office in Russia. The respondent Government were represented by Mr P. Laptev, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.

A.  The circumstances of the case

The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.

The first applicant was married to Ramzan Kukuyev, born in 1966. They had three daughters – the other three applicants – and lived, along with Ramzan Kukuyev’s parents and his four brothers and their families, in a household comprising several houses in the village of Tsa-Vedeno, Chechnya. The first applicant is a housewife and her husband worked as a builder. On 16 April 2000 Ramzan Kukuyev joined the Chechen home guard organised by the Russian authorities. On 30 March 2001 he left the service on medical grounds.

1.  Events of 3 May 2001 and Ramzan Kukuyev’s detention

(a)  The applicants’ version

In the morning of 3 May 2001 federal military commenced a “sweeping-up” operation in the village of Tsa-Vedeno.

Between 5 and 6 a.m., when the first applicant and her husband were asleep at home, a group of about forty servicemen entered their house. Two or three of them were wearing masks. The servicemen did not introduce themselves and ordered Ramzan Kukuyev to show his identity documents. The latter produced his papers and a medical certificate confirming that he was unwell and was not fit for work.

The military then forced all the men of the Kukuyev family into the courtyard while blocking the women inside. The Kukuyev men were ordered to take off their shirts and were subjected to body search. The military also searched the household. According to the first applicant, they broke the house belongings and took away a TV set, some clothes and a blanket.

Thereafter the servicemen forced Ramzan Kukuyev, his brother and two cousins into armoured personnel carriers (“APC”) and took them away. The first applicant attempted to follow them but the servicemen threatened her with firearms. The then four-year-old fourth applicant ran after her father, but one of the soldiers threw her aside with the result that she fell and broke her collar-bone.

Ramzan Kukuyev, along with other residents of Tsa-Vedeno arrested during the operation, was brought to the outskirts of the village at the location of a federal military base.

According to a resident of Tsa-Vedeno, who was also detained that day, in the evening the military ordered detainees to stand in a row. Some of the detainees, including Ramzan Kukuyev, were ordered out of the line. They were blindfolded and taken to a military helicopter. The helicopter and the servicemen then left in the direction of the town of Shali. Since then the applicants have had no news of Ramzan Kukuyev.

In the applicants’ submission, fifteen men from Tsa-Vedeno were apprehended during the “sweeping-up” operation on 3 May 2001. Some of them were released the same day, several others were released and delivered by a military helicopter to the outskirts of Tsa-Vedeno four days later. Ramzan Kukuyev, his cousin and another resident of Tsa-Vedeno disappeared following their detention.

The events of 3 May 2001, including the detention and disappearance of Ramzan Kukuyev, were reported by a number of human rights NGOs, and, in particular, by the Human Rights Watch in its report “Last seen...: continued ‘disappearances’ in Chechnya” (April 2002) and by the Memorial Human Rights Centre in June 2003.

(b)  The Government’s version

In the Government’s submission, on 3 May 2001 at about 11 a.m. unidentified persons in masks and camouflage uniforms armed with automatic firearms arrived in armoured vehicles at the village of Tsa-Vedeno, the Chechen Republic. Those persons detained 14 residents and took them away in an unknown direction. Subsequently, all the detainees except for the applicants’ relative and two others were released. The latter three residents of Tsa-Vedeno remain missing up to date.

2.  The search for Ramzan Kukuyev

On 3 May 2001 the federal military sealed off the village of Tsa-Vedeno.

On 4 May 2001, after restrictions had been lifted, the first applicant went to a military commander’s office in Vedeno to find out about her husband’s whereabouts. According to her, Mr Shevelev, the military commander, refused to talk to her that day as well as on 5 and 6 May 2001.

On 7 May 2001 Mr Shevelev met the first applicant and told her that “he knew where the Kukuyev brothers were kept, but would not tell her, as the Kukuyev brothers were bandits”. Later, however, the military commander told the first applicant that the “sweeping-up” operation of 3 May 2001 had been conducted by the Samara special police unit (Самарский отряд милиции особого назначения) and that the Kukuyev brothers were kept at the federal military base in Khankala.

In the first applicant’s submission, she attempted to talk to the prosecutor of the Vedeno District, but the latter refused to meet her.

The first applicant managed to talk to two residents of Tsa-Vedeno detained on 3 May 2001 and released four days later. According to her, they were severely beaten, one of them had burns on his chest, back and legs and his arms were swollen. They told her that they must have been detained at the military base between Shali and Serzhen-Yurt, since that was the only base, apart from the military base in Khankala, where military helicopters could land. They had been kept in a basement and severely beaten and tortured with electricity. One of them told the first applicant that he had seen her husband on 4 or 5 May 2001 when the latter had been taken for an interrogation. He had also seen the first applicant’s husband in the basement. The ex-detainees refused to make written statements, as they feared for their security.

Since 4 May 2001 the first applicant has repeatedly applied in person and in writing to various public bodies, including the district commander’s office, prosecutors at various levels, the Office of the President of Russia (Администрация Президента РФ) and the Special Envoy of the Russian President for Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic (Специальный представитель Президента РФ по обеспечению прав и свобод человека и гражданина в Чеченской Республике). In her letters to the authorities the applicant referred to the facts of her husband’s detention and asked for assistance and details of the investigation. In most cases these enquiries remained unanswered or only formal replies were given indicating that her requests had been forwarded to various prosecutor’s offices.

The first applicant also visited the federal military base in Shali and that in Khankala, but received no information concerning her husband.

3.  The official investigation into Ramzan Kukuyev’s disappearance

On 25 November 2001 the prosecutor’s office of the Vedeno District (прокуратура Введенского района, “the district prosecutor’s office”) instituted a criminal investigation into Ramzan Kukuyev’s disappearance under Article 126 (2) of the Russian Criminal Code (kidnapping of two or more persons by a group using firearms). The file was given the number 37061. According to the first applicant, the respective decision was not served on her.

In the first applicant’s submission, investigating authorities questioned her on several occasions, but no other members of the Kukuyev family, or neighbours, were ever interrogated. She further submitted that the criminal proceedings had been suspended on several occasions, but she had never received the respective decisions.

At some point in December 2001 the first applicant received information to the effect that her husband had been detained at the federal military base in Khankala. According to her, in reply to her request to verify this information the investigator in charge stated that he was afraid of going to Khankala, as he himself might disappear there.

On 22 January 2002 the head of the Temporary Office of the Interior of the Vedeno District (временный отдел внутренних дел Веденского района, “the Vedeno VOVD”) issued the first applicant with a progress note (справка) confirming that “on 3 May 2001 unidentified servicemen armed with machine-guns broke into the household of the Kukuyev family” and that Ramzan Kukuyev “had been taken in an APC in an unknown direction and his location had not been established”. The note further stated that criminal proceedings had been brought in connection with the above incident.

In a letter of 7 June 2002 the Vedeno VOVD notified the first applicant that criminal case no. 37061 had been referred to the military prosecutor’s office of military unit no. 20116 (военная прокуратура войсковой части 20116).

By letters of 25 July and 9 August 2002 the Military Prosecutor’s Office of the Northern Caucasus Military Circuit (Военная прокуратура Северо-Кавказского военного округа, “the Northern Caucasus Military Prosecutor’s Office”) transmitted the first applicant’s queries relating to the investigation into her husband’s abduction to the military prosecutors of military units nos. 20102 and 20116 respectively for “a thorough examination”.

On 29 July 2002 the Plenipotentiary Representative of the Russian President in the Southern Federal Circuit (полномочный представитель Президента РФ в Южном федеральном округе) forwarded the first applicant’s application to the Northern Caucasus Military Prosecutor’s Office and the Chechen Department of the Interior (Управление внутренних дел МВД РФ по Чеченской республике) for investigation. The latter transmitted the first applicant’s application to the Vedeno VOVD on 19 August 2002.

On 19 November 2002 the district prosecutor’s office issued a progress note for the military prosecutor’s office of military unit no. 20116, stating that criminal investigation no. 37061 instituted on 25 November 2001 in connection with the abduction of Ramzan Kukuyev by unidentified servicemen had been suspended, since no responsible had been established.

According to the first applicant, in a letter of 5 January 2003 the Northern Caucasus Military Prosecutor’s Office informed her that her further correspondence should be addressed to the military prosecutor of the United Group Alignment (военный прокурор Объединенной группы войск).

On 22 February 2003 the military prosecutor’s office of military unit no. 20116 forwarded the first applicant’s application to the district prosecutor’s office for investigation. In the same letter the first applicant was informed that “the search for missing persons was a direct obligation of the police”, and therefore she should apply to a district office of the interior.

On 28 April 2003 the first applicant requested the military prosecutor of the United Group Alignment to inform her which prosecutor’s office was in charge for the investigation into the abduction of her husband, to notify her of the latest developments in the case and to grant her the status of victim. It does not appear that this request was answered.

On 23 May 2003 the first applicant arrived at the district prosecutor’s office and was orally informed that the criminal proceedings had been suspended.

Referring to the information provided by the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Government submitted in their memorials dated 4 October and 3 November 2005 that criminal proceedings under Article 126 (2) of the Russian Criminal Code (aggravated kidnapping) had been instituted into the disappearance of Ramzan Kukuyev and two other residents of Tsa-Vedeno on 25 November 2001, and then suspended on 25 January 2002. On 17 December 2002 the case file that had been assigned the number 37061 had been destroyed in a fire as a result of a rebel fighters’ attack on the premises of the district prosecutor’s office. According to the Government, on 25 August 2004 the acting prosecutor of the Vedeno District ordered that the file of criminal case no. 37061 be restored. The preliminary investigation in this case was then suspended on 25 September 2004 and 10 October 2005 and then resumed on 10 August and 20 October 2005. The Government submitted that the case was now being investigated by the prosecutor’s office of the Vedeno District under supervision of the Prosecutor General’s Office. The investigation had failed to date to identify the alleged perpetrators or to establish Ramzan Kukuyev’s whereabouts.

The Government further submitted that on 14 September 2004 Ramzan Kukuyev’s mother had been granted the status of victim of a crime and interrogated the next day. The first applicant had been declared a victim and questioned on 24 September 2004. According to the Government, during the first applicant’s interrogation she had not made statements to the effect that her husband had been kept at the military base in Khankala, that her property had been looted or that the military commander’s office had ignored her requests for information.

In the Government’s submission, apart from the applicant and Ramzan Kukuyev’s mother, the authorities had questioned a number of witnesses, including several residents of Tsa-Vedeno who had been detained on 3 May 2001 and released later. They had stated that they were unable to identify the persons who had detained them.

According to the Government, the investigating authorities had sought and obtained information from the district military commander’s office, the Vedeno VOVD and the Vedeno District Department of the Federal Security Service that no criminal proceedings had ever been brought, nor any special measures ever been taken, against Ramzan Kukuyev and that he had never been arrested or detained by any of them. The applicants’ relative had not been listed among detainees of any detention centres in Chechnya.

Finally, the Government stated that the investigating authorities had sent a number of queries to various State bodies on 28 August and 15 September 2004, 13 and 24 August 2005.

Despite specific requests made by the Court on two occasions, the Government refused to submit a copy of the entire investigation file in case no. 37061, stating with reference to the information obtained from the Prosecutor General’s Office that the investigation was in progress and that disclosure of the documents would be in violation of Article 161 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, since the file contained information of a military nature and personal data concerning the witnesses.

They only submitted a list of documents in the file of criminal case no. 37061, from which it can be ascertained that there were at least 186 pages in the file and several documents. These included:

(a) a copy of a procedural decision of 25 November 2001 instituting criminal proceedings in connection with the disappearance of the applicants’ relative and two other residents of Tsa-Vedeno on 3 May 2001;

(b) copies of procedural decisions of 18 December 2002 and 18 February 2003 on institution and suspension of criminal proceedings in connection with an explosion on the territory of the Vedeno VOVD leading to the destruction of property;

(c) copies of decisions granting the status of victims in case no. 37061 to the first applicant and a relative of another missing person;

(d) copies of investigators’ decisions of 25 August 2004, 10 August and 19 September 2005 taking up case no. 37061;

(e) a letter of September 2004 (the date is unclear) informing the first applicant of the suspension of the investigation on 24 September 2004;

(f) letters dated 10 October 2005 notifying the relatives of the victims, but not the first applicant, of the suspension of the investigation on the same date.

B.  Relevant domestic law

Until 1 July 2002 criminal-law matters were governed by the 1960 Code of Criminal Procedure of the RSFSR. On 1 July 2002 the old Code was replaced by the Code of Criminal Procedure of the Russian Federation (CCP).

Article 161 of the new CCP stipulates that data from the preliminary investigation may not be disclosed. Part 3 of the same Article provides that information from the investigation file may be divulged with the permission of a prosecutor or investigator, but only in so far as it does not infringe the rights and lawful interests of the participants in the criminal proceedings and does not prejudice the investigation. It is prohibited to divulge information about the private life of the participants in criminal proceedings without their permission.

COMPLAINTS

1.  The applicants complained under Article 2 of the Convention about a violation of the right to life in respect of their relative, Ramzan Kukuyev. The applicants submitted that the circumstances of his disappearance and the long period during which his whereabouts could not be established indicated that Ramzan Kukuyev had been killed by the federal forces. The applicants also complained that no effective investigation had been conducted into their relative’s disappearance.

2.  The applicants submitted that the provisions of Article 5 of the Convention as a whole, relating to the lawfulness of detention and guarantees against arbitrariness, had been violated in respect of Ramzan Kukuyev.

3.  The applicants further relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, claiming that under national law they were barred from filing a civil claim to obtain compensation for their relative’s unlawful detention or death pending the outcome of the criminal investigation.

4.  The applicants claimed that the intrusion by the Russian military into their house on 3 May 2001 and the ensuing search had been unlawful and had infringed their right to respect for their home, as guaranteed by Article 8 of the Convention. The applicants also complained that the detention of their close relative had constituted an unlawful and unjustified interference with their family life, in breach of Article 8 of the Convention.

5.  The applicants alleged that they had no effective remedies in respect of their complaints under Articles 2, 5 and 8, contrary to Article 13 of the Convention.

6.  Lastly, in their observations of 21 December 2005 the applicants complained that the Government’s refusal to submit a copy of the file of the investigation into their relative’s disappearance was in breach of the State’s obligations under Article 38 § 1 of the Convention.

THE LAW

1.  The applicants complained that their relative had disappeared after having been unlawfully detained by Russian servicemen and that the domestic authorities had failed to carry out an effective investigation into the matter. They further alleged that their right to respect for private and family life had been breached as a result of unlawful detention and disappearance of their close relative. The applicants also complained that they had been deprived of effective remedies in respect of the aforementioned violations. They referred to Articles 2, 5, 8 and 13 of the Convention, which, in so far as relevant, provide as follows:

Article 2

“1.  Everyone’s right to life shall be protected by law. No one shall be deprived of his life intentionally save in the execution of a sentence of a court following his conviction of a crime for which this penalty is provided by law.

2.  Deprivation of life shall not be regarded as inflicted in contravention of this article when it results from the use of force which is no more than absolutely necessary:

(a)  in defence of any person from unlawful violence;

(b)  in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;

(c)  in action lawfully taken for the purpose of quelling a riot or insurrection.”

Article 5

“1.  Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:

...

(c)  the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority on reasonable suspicion of having committed an offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;

...

2.  Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and of any charge against him.

3.  Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1 (c) of this Article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorised by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.

4.  Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.

5.  Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this Article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.”

Article 8

“1.  Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home...

2.  There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.”

Article 13

“Everyone whose rights and freedoms as set forth in [the] Convention are violated shall have an effective remedy before a national authority notwithstanding that the violation has been committed by persons acting in an official capacity.”

A.  Exhaustion of domestic remedies

1.  Submissions by the parties

The Government contended that the application should be declared inadmissible as the applicants had failed to exhaust the domestic remedies available to them. They submitted that the investigation into the disappearance of the applicants’ relative had not yet been completed. The Government also argued that it had been open to the applicants to lodge a court complaint about the actions or omissions of the investigating or other law-enforcement authorities, but they had not availed themselves of that remedy.

The applicants contested the Government’s objection. They claimed that an administrative practice consisting in the authorities’ continuing failure to conduct adequate investigations into offences committed by representatives of the federal forces in Chechnya rendered any potentially effective remedies inadequate and illusory in their case. In this connection the applicants relied on applications submitted to the Court by other individuals claiming to be victims of similar violations, and on documents by human rights NGOs and the Council of Europe. The applicants also argued that a court complaint against the actions or omissions of the investigating authorities would not have been an effective remedy in their situation, as there were numerous examples where such complaints had produced no results, or merely had remained unanswered. The applicants further claimed that, in any event, they had repeatedly applied to law-enforcement bodies, including various prosecutors, and had attempted to participate in the investigation. This avenue, however, had proved futile, given that the criminal investigation had been pending since November 2001 but had failed to identify those involved in the illegal detention and disappearance of Ramzan Kukuyev.

2.  The Court’s assessment

The Court considers that the question of exhaustion of domestic remedies is so closely linked to the merits of the case that it is inappropriate to determine it at the present stage of the proceedings.

The Court therefore decides to join this objection to the merits.

B.  As to the merits of the applicants’ complaints

1.   Submissions by the parties

(a)  The Government

The Government argued, with reference to a reply from the Prosecutor General’s Office, that the investigation had not established the involvement of the State agents in Ramzan Kukuyev’s disappearance, that there was no convincing evidence that he was dead, and that therefore there were no grounds to claim that the State had breached his right to life secured by Article 2 of the Convention. The Government further claimed that the investigation into the disappearance of the applicants’ relative met the Convention requirement of effectiveness, as all measures envisaged in national law were being taken to identify those responsible.

The Government contended that the investigation had obtained no evidence that Ramzan Kukuyev had been deprived of his liberty in breach of Article 5 of the Convention. They suggested that the applicants’ relative might have become a victim of rebel fighters, given that he had served at the military commander’s office of the Vedeno District in 2000-2001.

The Government claimed that no evidence had been obtained indicating a breach of the applicants’ right to respect for their private and family life, set forth in Article 8 of the Convention.

The Government also contended that the applicants had had effective domestic remedies, as required by Article 13 of the Convention, and the Russian authorities had not prevented them from using those remedies. They submitted that the relatives of the missing person had been declared victims, had received reasoned replies to all their requests made in the context of the investigation and had been duly informed of all the procedural decisions.

(b)  The applicants

The applicants disagreed with the Government and maintained their complaints. They stressed that Ramzan Kukuyev disappeared at the hands of the authorities in life-endangering circumstances and the Government had failed to produce any plausible explanation as to his whereabouts. The applicants thus argued, relying on Article 2 of the Convention, that the fact that their relative had remained missing since 3 May 2001 proved that he had been killed.

As regards the procedural aspect of Article 2 of the Convention, the applicants claimed that the authorities had failed in their obligation to carry out an effective investigation into the circumstances of their relative’s disappearance. They argued that it had been pending for several years but had not brought any tangible results so far, having been repeatedly suspended and reopened. Furthermore, the investigating authorities had failed to inform the applicants about the decisions concerning the adjournment and reopening of the investigation or its progress.

The applicants reiterated their argument that Ramzan Kukuyev had been detained by the representatives of the federal forces and argued that his detention had not satisfied any of the conditions set out in Article 5 of the Convention, had had no basis in national law and had not been in accordance with a procedure established by law or been formally registered.

Lastly, the applicants relied on Article 13 of the Convention, alleging that in their case the domestic remedies usually available had proved to be ineffective, given that the investigation had been pending for several years without any progress and that all their applications to public bodies had remained unanswered or had only produced standard replies.

2.  The Court’s assessment

The Court considers, in the light of the parties’ submissions, that this part of the application raises complex issues of law and fact under the Convention, the determination of which should depend on an examination of the merits of the application. Consequently, the Court concludes that this part of the application cannot be declared manifestly ill-founded within the meaning of Article 35 § 3 of the Convention. No other ground for declaring it inadmissible has been established.

2.  The applicants also complained that they were unable to bring civil proceedings for compensation for their relative’s unlawful detention or death until the investigation had been completed. They relied on Article 6 § 1 of the Convention, which, in so far as relevant, reads as follows:

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations ..., everyone is entitled to a fair ... hearing ... by [a] ... tribunal ...”

The Government argued that the applicants’ complaint concerning the alleged absence of access to a court to obtain compensation was speculative as, in practice, they had never attempted to file such a claim in a domestic court. The applicants submitted no comments in this respect.

The Court observes that the applicants submitted no information which would prove their alleged intention to apply to a domestic court with a claim for compensation. Accordingly, this part of the application is manifestly ill-founded and should be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 3 and 4 of the Convention.

3.  The applicants further complained under Article 8 of the Convention of an infringement of their right to respect for their home on account of the intrusion of the federal servicemen into their house on 3 May 2001 and the ensuing search.

The Government argued that this complaint should be declared inadmissible for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies and that, in any event, there was no evidence of a search in the applicants’ home by representatives of the State in breach of Article 8 of the Convention.

The applicants disagreed and maintained their complaint. They claimed that the intrusion in their house and the ensuing search had been in breach of national law, had not pursued a legitimate aim and had not been necessary in a democratic society.

The Court does not find it necessary to examine the arguments advanced by the parties since this part of application is in any event inadmissible for the following reasons.

The Court reiterates that while in accordance with Article 35 § 1 of the Convention those seeking to bring their case against the State before the Court are required to use first the remedies provided by the national legal system, there is no obligation under the said provision to have recourse to remedies which are inadequate or ineffective. If no remedies are available or if they are judged to be ineffective, the six-month period in principle runs from the date of the act complained of (see Hazar and Others v. Turkey (dec.), no. 62566/000 et seq., 10 January 2002).

In the instant case, there is no evidence that the applicants properly raised before the domestic authorities their complaint alleging a breach of their right to respect for their home. But even assuming that in the circumstances of the present case no remedies were available to the applicants, the events complained of took place on 3 May 2001, whereas their application was lodged on 28 June 2002, more than six months later (see Musayeva and Others v. Russia (dec.), no. 74239/01, 1 June 2006, Aziyev and Aziyeva v. Russia (dec.), no. 77626/01, 21 September 2006, or Ruslan Umarov v. Russia (dec.), no. 12712/02, 8 February 2007).

It follows that this part of the application was lodged out of time and must be rejected in accordance with Article 35 §§ 1 and 4 of the Convention.

For these reasons, the Court unanimously

Decides to join to the merits the Government’s objection concerning non-exhaustion of domestic remedies in respect of the complaints submitted under Articles 2, 5 and 13 of the Convention and the complaint regarding a violation of the applicants’ right to respect for their private and family life under Article 8 of the Convention arising out of the alleged detention and disappearance of their relative;

Declares admissible, without prejudging the merits, the applicants’ complaints above;

Declares inadmissible the remainder of the application.

Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis 
 Registrar President

ATABAYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA DECISION


ATABAYEVA AND OTHERS v. RUSSIA DECISION