Application no. 30501/04
by Gleb PAVLOVSKIY
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 20 October 2005 as a Chamber composed of:
Mr C.L. Rozakis, President,
Mr P. Lorenzen,
Mrs N. Vajić,
Mrs S. Botoucharova,
Mr A. Kovler,
Mrs E. Steiner,
Mr K. Hajiyev, judges,
and Mr S. Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 13 August 2004,
Having regard to the observations submitted by the respondent Government,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicant, Mr Gleb Olegovich Pavlovskiy, is a Russian national who was born in 1951 and lives in Moscow. He was initially represented before the Court by Mr G. Padva and Ms A. Turova, and later by Messrs S. Sevruk and A. Zenin, lawyers practising in Moscow. The respondent Government are represented by Mr P. Laptev, Representative of the Russian Federation at the European Court of Human Rights.
A. Domestic proceedings
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
On 2 September 2003 the applicant prepared an analytical report, entitled “On the adverse effects of the ‘summer offensive’ of the minority faction opposed to the political line of the President of the Russian Federation” (hereinafter – “the Report”), and published it on the websites of the Russkiy Zhurnal e-magazine and of the political expert network “Kreml.Org”. The Report covered trends and developments in the Russian politics in summer 2003. It alleged that a group of persons, comprising high-ranking employees of the presidential administration, the upper tier of the Russian secret service and the senator and banker Mr Pugachev, emerged into a new “centre of power” and continued to expand. Waging the “anti-oligarch” battle against the Yukos oil company, it aspired to a change of elites and establishment of “a state capitalism based on a revised version of Russian Orthodox [Christianity], simplified for the masses”. It implied that the aspirations of the group represented a danger for President Putin and jeopardised his political agenda focussed on increasing public wealth and consolidating Russian society.
Mr Pugachev sued the applicant, the websites that published the Report and the media that discussed it, for defamation.
On 28 November 2003 the Solntsevskiy District Court of Moscow issued a default judgment against the applicant and the media designated as the defendants in the defamation suit. The court did not accept the argument that the Report was the expression of the applicant’s subjective opinion because the term ‘statements’ used in the Russian Civil Code was to be understood as comprising both statements about facts and opinions expressed thereon. Thus, the burden of proof was on the applicant to show that the contents of the Report had been truthful and he failed to discharge that burden. The court ordered the applicant to take the Report off the websites and to publish a refutation. It awarded Mr Pugachev the entire amount sought, that is thirty million Russian roubles (RUR).
On 16 February 2004 the Moscow City Court upheld the judgment. It refused to examine the evidence produced by the applicant, holding that it was not competent to examine new pieces of evidence which the applicant had failed to produce before the first-instance court. The city court reduced, however, the award to RUR 10,000,000 (EUR 273,500), referring to the “developing case-law in that category of cases”.
B. Proceedings before the Court
On 4 April 2005 the application was communicated to the respondent Government.
On 14 April 2005 the applicant’s representative Ms Turova informed the Court that the applicant did not intend to pursue his application and asked the Court to strike it out of the list of cases.
By a letter of 27 April 2005, the applicant confirmed his intention not to pursue his application before the Court and asked to discontinue the proceedings.
On 28 June 2005 the Government submitted their observations on the admissibility and merits of the case which were forwarded to the applicant’s representatives for comment.
On 25 July 2005 the applicant’s representatives informed the Court as follows (translated from Russian):
“Acting on behalf of our client, we inform the European Court once again that [the applicant] has no claim vis-à-vis the authorities of the Russian Federation as his civil dispute with his procedural adversary before the domestic courts in respect of the report published on the Internet has been settled.
As the substantial terms and conditions of the settlement have entirely satisfied [the applicant], our client considers it inappropriate and inefficient to pursue the examination of his application before the European Court. He instructed us to inform the High Court accordingly.”
The Court recalls that Article 37 of the Convention provides, in the relevant part, as follows:
“1. The Court may at any stage of the proceedings decide to strike an application out of its list of cases where the circumstances lead to the conclusion that
(a) the applicant does not intend to pursue his application; or
(b) the matter has been resolved...
However, the Court shall continue the examination of the application if respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and the Protocols thereto so requires...”
The Court notes that the applicant – in person and through his representatives – informed it that the matter had been resolved at the domestic level and that the applicant had no intention to pursue his application (Article 37 § 1 (a) and (b) of the Convention). Furthermore, it finds no public policy reasons to justify a continued examination of the application (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). Accordingly, Article 29 § 3 of the Convention should no longer apply to the case and it should be struck out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to discontinue the application of Article 29 § 3 of the Convention and to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis
PAVLOVSKIY v. RUSSIA DECISION
PAVLOVSKIY v. RUSSIA DECISION