European Court of Human Rights Rules against Russia for Expulsions of Georgians
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has found Russia guilty of human rights violations for the mass expulsion of Georgians two years before the 2008 Russian-Georgian War.
In the fall of 2006, Russian officials rounded up more than 2,300 Georgians and deported hundreds of them in cargo planes. The operation, which hit amidst an embargo on Georgian wine, water and fruit and vegetables, was largely seen as retaliation against former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s administration for detaining and deporting four Russian military officers on espionage charges.
Georgia filed a complaint against Russia in Europe’s senior human-rights court in 2007, but it took nearly seven years for the EHCR to pass a verdict . “The Russian authorities had implemented a coordinated policy of arresting, detaining and expelling Georgians nationals” violating international law that bars the “collective expulsion of aliens” and “inhuman and degrading treatment,” the ECHR said in a press release on the July 3 verdict.
The long-awaited verdict put Tbilisi in a celebratory mood. “I would like to congratulate with this victory all those Georgians, who were subjected to degrading treatment, and to tell them that the European Court has stood up for their rights,” Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani, a former ECHR employee, said in a statement.
Russia’s Ministry of Justice chose to focus on those components of Georgia’s mutli-pronged suit that had not been upheld by the Court.
The ECHR has invited Moscow and Tbilisi to agree on a form of compensation for the damages inflicted upon the victims of the expulsions. If the sides fail to reach an agreement, the Court will rule on the compensations.