Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion turned critic of President Vladimir Putin, won a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights declaring his rights were violated by his arrest at a 2007 protest in Moscow.
The court in Strasbourg, France, ordered the Russian government to pay Kasparov and two Russians who were detained as much as 10,000 euros ($13,600) each and awarded a lesser amount to five other plaintiffs, according to an e-mailed statement today. The ruling can be appealed.
The arrest of the eight men before an authorized demonstration in the Russian capital was “disproportionate to the aim of maintaining public order,” the court said. Their rights were further breached when they were convicted and fined for having violated the rules on protests, it said.
Putin has come under increasing criticism by the U.S. and European countries for a crackdown on the opposition and non-government organizations since he extended his 13-year-rule in presidential elections last year. Kasparov, 50, earlier this year fled Russia, saying he feared he wouldn’t be allowed to travel freely if he stayed in the country.
Another leading critic of Putin, Alexey Navalny, is appealing a five-year prison sentence on charges that he defrauded a state timber company. He denies any wrongdoing and says the case is payback for helping lead rallies against Putin in 2011, the biggest protests since the president came to power.
Russia has indicted 12 people for participating in mass rioting at a demonstration at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on May 6, 2012, the eve of Putin’s inauguration. Amnesty International declared three of them prisoners of conscience, saying they were detained for exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression and assembly.
“It is extremely likely that other people in the Bolotnaya case are also prisoners of conscience although their actions are currently under consideration by the courts,” the group said yesterday on its website.
Putin, 60, a former colonel in the Soviet-era KGB, reclaimed the presidency last year from now Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who’d stood in for him for four years. As president, Medvedev pushed to lower the state’s presence in the economy and combat corruption.
Putin last month said he doesn’t rule out a run for re-election when his third term ends in 2018.
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