POLITICS
European Court of Human Rights held final hearing in case of Russian-Georgian war 2008
24 May, 2018
The European Court of Human Rights held a final hearing in the case of Georgia v. Russia (II) on May 23. Ben Emerson, the lawyer of the state of Georgia, Mikhail Gelperin, a representative of Russian Justice Ministry, and the lawyer of the state of Russia, addressed a panel of 17 judges.
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The European Court of Human Rights held a f
inal hearing in the case of Georgia v. Russia


The Russo-Georgian War of august 2008, one of the most painful events in modern history of Georgian, was a war between Georgia, Russia and the Russian-backed self-proclaimed republics of Tskhinvali (so-called South Ossetia) and Abkhazia. The war took place in August 2008 following a period of worsening relations between Russia and Georgia. The fighting took place in the strategically important Transcaucasia region. It was regarded as the first European war of the 21st century.

Russia has, since the war, occupied Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) in addition to Georgia’s Abkhazia Region in violation of the ceasefire agreement of August 2008.

At this stage, the court has started working on the judgment, which will presumably be announced in a few months.

Georgia filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights against Russia on August 11, 2008, , but it was admitted on 13 December 2011, and on April 3, 2012, the case was sent to the Grand Chamber for consideration.

During the period from June 6 to June 17, 33 witnesses were interviewed. 16 out of them were called by the Georgian government, 11 - by Russia and 6 - by the Strasbourg Court.
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Final hearing in the case of Georgia v. Russia at The European Court of Human Rights. May 23

As leading British newspaper, The Guardian reports, their testimony covered the war’s most gruesome episodes: the alleged ethnic cleansing of 20,000 Georgian villagers living in or adjacent to South Ossetia, who were driven and burned out of their homes, a deadly rocket attack on the town of Gori, and the torture of prisoners.
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Final hearing in the case of Georgia v. Russia at The European Court of Human Rights. May 23

“However, Russian military officials who gave evidence denied an attack had taken place. Instead, they suggested Georgia’s evidence was fake, or that the Georgian army had bombed its own people to falsely implicate Moscow,” reports The Guardian.

“The suggestions were, at times, preposterous and almost comic,” said Ben Emerson, the lawyer of the state of Georgia.
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Ben Emerson, the lawyer of the state of Georgia

The judges are expected to rule later this year. Their verdict could be consequential.

Georgian side

Georgia accuses Russia of serious aggression committed in August 2008 and violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols in the following period. In particular, Georgia believes that Russia violated the articles of the European Convention, which pertain to the right to life, prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment, freedom and security, freedom of movement, etc.

It is noteworthy that this is the second application filed by Georgia with the European Court of Human Rights against Russia. The first one concerned the mass arrests and collective expulsion of Georgian citizens from Russia in the autumn of 2006, which was considered by the European Court as a violation of the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights and Russia was ordered to pay compensation.


Russian side

Georgia has accused Russia of war crimes, human rights violations and a “rampage” across its territory during the military conflict between the countries almost 10 years ago.

Moscow has complained repeatedly that the court is biased and politicised. It blames Georgia’s pro-western former leader Mikheil Saakashvili for starting the conflict by sending soldiers to rebel-held South Ossetia and says its role was as honest peacekeeper.
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Map of Russo-Georgia War

In 2015, Vladimir Putin passed a new law stating that Russia would ignore rulings from Strasbourg if they contravened the country’s constitution. The Kremlin has so far only done this once, refusing to pay $2bn (£1.5bn) to shareholders from the bankrupted Russian oil company Yukos.

Related stories:

National Geographic uncovers tragic story of people living in conflict zones between Georgia and Russia-occupied territory

Living on the Shifting Border of Georgia and Russia – The New York Times

Georgian photographer depicts the creeping borders in her country

Georgian soldier who died in occupied Tskhinvali Region buried with honor

US Assistant Secretary visits occupation line: "We call on the Russia to withdraw the recognition of these regions"
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