Russia Ordered To Pay Damages to Georgia

Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze meeting Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in 2017. (Wikimedia Commons)

Georgian Foreign Minister Mikheil Janelidze meeting Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in 2017. (Wikimedia Commons)

The European Court of Human Rights ordered Russia on January 31 to pay Georgia €10 million ($11.3 million) within three months over damages suffered by at least 1,500 Georgian nationals. The ruling involves the deportation of 4,634 Georgians from Russia between September 2006 and January 2007. The damages will be distributed at €2,000 ($2,200) per deportee and between €10,000 ($11,300) and €15,000 ($17,000) for those detained before deportation. The judgement was adopted by 16 votes to one. The sole dissenting opinion proposed direct payments to victims rather than routing the payments through the Georgian government.

Georgia alleged that the deportations were a deliberate act of revenge by Russia in response to the arrests of four Russian officers in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, on espionage charges. Russia denied the allegations and claimed that the deportations were a by product of Moscow’s standard efforts to fight illegal immigration.

The court’s ruling correlates with a July 2014 case, which held the mass deportations and detentions of Georgians in violation of the European Convention of Human Rights. At the time, the court declared it was “not ready for decision” and postponed any agreement on compensation. Georgia requested €70 million ($79.3 million) in compensation, a figure Russia was unwilling to meet. This led the court to resume deliberations in 2015.

Per the Grand Chamber judgement, Georgia submitted claims for just satisfaction for “4,634 Georgian nationals, of whom 2,380 had allegedly been detained and forcibly expelled.” The country demanded €20,000 ($22,600) per detainee or expelled Georgian, and €10,000

($11,300) for those who left Russia by their own means. It requested an additional €80,000 ($90,600) for four individual cases. The Georgian government wanted jurisdiction over the distribution of compensation. It submitted a final list of 1,795 alleged victims to the court but claimed that the number of victims “was much higher.”

In its response, Russia submitted that compensation could only be paid to individual victims of the violations determined by the court. They wanted individuals to be identified because they were fearful of compensating unaffected Georgians. The court assessed that the parties had to identify specific Georgian nationals who were victims and provide the court with the corresponding information. Of the 1,795 Georgians provided on the list, 290 were found to be unqualified for compensation by the court. The distribution of compensation will be supervised by the Committee of Ministers.

Russia and Georgia have a recent history of conflict. Georgia has accused Russia of committing war crimes during their 2008 conflict. Russia accused Georgia of committing war crimes against ethnic Russians back in 2008. The official Twitter account of Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted that “#Georgia welcomes judgement by the #StrasbourgCourt and considers it as a fair reply to #Russia’s aggressive policy.”