Freedom of Association and Assembly / Protests
Vajnai v. Hungary
Closed Contracts Expression
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Anna Gritsevich, a journalist, was arrested while covering a protest in Sochi. The police accused her of being the protest’s organizer, along with another person. The court sentenced her to three days in prison for an administrative violation of disobeying lawful orders of the police, which she served. She appealed her guilty verdict, but it was upheld by the court of appeals.
On June 25, 2014, Sochi, the host of the 2014 winter Olympics was severely flooded. One of the dump-sites for the debris was the village of Chereshnya, which lays on the border of Sochi. On June 28, 2014, the village’s residents blocked off the road to the dump-site. Anna Gritsevich reported on this via her Facebook page and mentioned that law enforcement threatened to use OMON, Russia’s special police, against them, after which the protesters dispersed.
On June 29, 2014, the Sochi police returned to the village to disperse the protesters again. During the operation, Anna Gritsevich was detained by the police. She was covering the story for Kavkazkiy Uzel, an online news publication. Gritsevich claims that she was filming the actions of the police from a distance and was pointed-out by a police colonel in charge of the the operation. She yelled-out that she was a journalist on an assignment as she was being detained and placed in the police car. She was not given a reason for her detention at the time.
At the police station, Anna Gritsevich was charged with disobedience of a lawful police order during an operation to disperse an illegal protest, in violation of the Criminal Procedure Code, Article 19.3, para. 1.
On July 6, 2015, a court found Anna Gritsevich guilty of violating the Criminal Procedure Code, Article 19.3, para. 1., and sentenced her to three days in prison. She appealed her guilty verdict, but the court of appeals upheld it. She served the three days, despite her case being appealed.
Upon release, she also sued the Sochi police for criminal abuse of authority, but the prosecutor did not accept the criminal claim.
The court did not admit the video of Gritsevich’s arrest on the basis that the court lacked the technical capacity to show it. Instead, the court relied solely on police evidence based on a statement of an unidentified witness. The court denied Gritsevich’s motion to question the witness, without specifying the reason, simply stating that she would have the opportunity to read it in court documents later.
The court of appeal’s upheld the lower court’s decision without admitting Gritsevich’s evidence and witnesses.
Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.
The judgment establishes an impunity precedent for improper action of the police, even when evidence to it exists.
Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.
Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.
The recent decision was from the court of appeals, which has precedential effects over lower courts in its jurisdiction.
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