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Russian MFA Information and Press Department Commentary on ECHR Ruling in Favor of Vasiliy Kononov in WWII Veteran’s Case vs. Latvia


Russia has received with satisfaction the long-awaited ruling of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Great Patriotic War veteran Vasiliy Kononov’s appeal against Latvia. The Russian Federation had acted in this proceeding as a third party.

It will be recalled that Latvia-born Vasiliy Kononov, a Russian citizen and former Soviet partisan, was arrested in 1998 and accused by the authorities of that country of having committed “war crimes” during World War II. Kononov’s trial lasted several years. He was found guilty and released from custody in 2000 having served the sentence. Seeking acquittal, Kononov appealed to all the Latvian judicial instances, but failed. In 2004 he brought his case to ECHR.

The case was accepted for further examination on its merits, and the court found that there had been a violation of Article 7 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms providing that “no one shall be held guilty of any criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time when it was committed.”

We are glad that justice has triumphed, and that the 85-year-old war veteran, having endured the hardship of imprisonment, the psychological and moral harassment unleashed against him, and a long-running illegal prosecution in Latvia, has at last received an objective verdict from the European Court of Human Rights.

July 25, 2008