ECHR Orders Russia to Release Yukos Prisoner

UPDATE: Reuters is on the story now.  The following news release was arrived in our email box from the defense team of Vasily Alexanyan.

alexanyan102008.jpgEuropean Court of Human Rights orders Russia to release AIDS prisoner

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held in a judgment issued today, 22nd December 2008, that the continued detention of Vasily Aleksanyan by the Russian authorities is ‘unacceptable’.

STRASBOURG, 22nd December 2008: The ECHR, in a judgement issued this morning, ordered the release of Mr Vasily Aleksanyan, a 37 year old lawyer who has been held in detention by the Russian authorities since April 6th 2006 (991 days). Mr Aleksanyan suffers from AIDS and a number of concomitant diseases, including AIDS-related lymphatic cancer, and is nearly blind.

Following Mr Aleksanyan’s detention and the diagnosis of HIV in 2006,his health declined rapidly. On 26 November 2007, Mr Aleksanyan lodgeda request for urgent intervention by the ECHR on the basis that he wasnot receiving treatment appropriate to his condition and necessary topreserve his life. In response, on several occasions in November andDecember 2007 the ECHR issued interim measures, (injunctions) requiringthe Russian authorities to transfer Mr Aleksanyan to a hospitalspecialized in the treatment of AIDS and concomitant diseases. TheRussian authorities refused to transfer Mr Aleksanyan for treatment forover two months.

Today the ECHR, finding violations of several articles of the EuropeanConvention on Human Rights, held that the Russian authorities’ failureto provide timely treatment to Mr. Aleksanyan ‘undermined [his] dignityand entailed particularly acute hardship… which amounted to inhuman anddegrading treatment’. The ECHR also noted that ‘[it] is clear… that forover two months the Government continuously refused to implement theinterim measure, thus putting the applicant’s health and even life indanger’.

Finally, the ECHR found that ‘in view of the gravity of the applicant’sillnesses, [his] continued detention is unacceptable’ and ‘has lost anymeaningful purpose… further maintaining of [detention] is incompatiblewith Article 5 of the Convention’ (right to liberty and security ofperson).

Notes to Editors

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* For further information on the Alekanyan case, please visit this website

* To read today’s judgement, please follow this link: