This snowball is just getting rolling on this story that the former president of the European Court of Human Rights, Luzius Wildhaber, has told Swiss paper Neue Züricher Zeitung early this week that he was poisoned during a trip to Russia last fall. Chairman of the Russian Constitutional Court Valry Zorkin is perplexed by this news. Further details and a translation of the original interview are forthcoming. From the Guardian:
I was poisoned by Russians, human rights judge says · Legal chief fell violently ill after trip to Moscow · Kremlin dismisses claims but had attacked court Luke Harding in Moscow Wednesday January 31, 2007 Guardian Unlimited The former president of the European Court of Human Rights today claimed he was poisoned during a visit to Russia in late October – three days before the former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko was fatally poisoned in London. Luzius Wildhaber, who retired last month as Europe’s most senior judge, told a Swiss newspaper that he had fallen violently ill after a three-day trip to Moscow. The judge has been the subject of persistent criticism from Russia for upholding a series of complaints by Chechen human rights campaigners. … “After everything that I have experienced at the European court I simply have to take all possibilities into account,” Mr Wildhaber said, adding that he had been threatened by Russia in the past. “The Russian government has repeatedly dubbed the court as Russia-phobic,” he said. Russian officials today dismissed Mr Wildhaber’s allegations as laughable and said there was no evidence he had been poisoned on Russian soil. Valery Zorkin, the chairman of Russia’s constitutional court, said the allegations were perplexing. The judge had seemed fine during his three-day visit, he said. “As far as I remember, food poisoning took place in reality … it was merely food poisoning.” … But officials conceded today that the Kremlin had been annoyed by a series of judgments by the European Court of Human Rights and regarded it as pathologically anti-Russian and biased. The court has regularly condemned Russian human rights abuses in Chechnya, and has ruled against complaints of discrimination by ethnic Russians in the Baltics. But an autumn 2002 ruling appears to have especially incensed Moscow. The court upheld the appeal against extradition of a group of 13 Chechens wanted by Russia who had fled to Georgia. The Neue Züricher Zeitung said Russia’s ambassador to the Council of Europe turned up in Mr Wildhaber’s office and said that unless the men were handed over within 24 hours Russia would blame the court for the Moscow theatre siege when Chechen extremists took 850 people hostage. “It was a vile form of blackmail,” Mr Wildhaber told the paper.