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Karinna Moskalenko
Written by   
, 25 1999

Karinna Moskalenko: “Besides the European Court, we do not have anything else we can count on”

   Rosa Malsagova / RFIKarinna Moskalenko, the attorney representing the ‘Nord-Ost’ victims at the European Court of Human Rights, talks about the case’s progress in Strasbourg, which has become became her clients’ lasthope.

October 24th marks the 9years from the date of the seizure of hostages in the theater on Dubrovka in Moscow. 912people had come to see the musical ‘Nord-Ost’, and on October 26th, 2002, during the assault 130of them were killed, according to official figures. Theinvestigation into the terrorist attack was called off in 2007, but reopened again thisyear.

RFI: In April 2003, six months after the terrorist attack on Dubrovka, you filed a complaint at the ECHR against the government of Russia. Justlast year the court finally ruled on the admissibility of the complaint.

Karinna Moskalenko: This was preceded by some very serious work. Youcannot assume that the court did nothing at all during those years, though, of course, my principals, and I, as their representative, their attorney, believe that work on this case has been going on for a very long time. Butstill, this was preceded by a long round of communications. Communication (in jurisprudence) means an exchange of pleadings. Youprobably know that most cases are done using documents, without a hearing in a trial. Thesides, instead of verbally expressing their opinions, pass back and forth these so-called memoranda, in which they answer the court’s questions and describe their legal position in thecase.

Now the European Court has ruled on the admissibility of the complaint on all key issues. Butas to whether it considers issues raised by my principals to be violations, we will find this out only in its final decision.

And when will this be, you were going to ask, and Iwill tell you that Ido not know. AllI can say is that this year we, all the applicants’ representatives, appealed to the ECHR right after the summer holidays and asked them to orient us regarding the timing of what the Court stated regarding the case being ruled on with a final decision this year. Weare hoping that the court stays within this timeframe.

RFI: Today, 9years afterwards, while the Russian authorities are doing their best to see this tragedy is forgotten, might it seem that a fair decision by the Strasbourg Court is the only hope of the victims’ families?

Karinna Moskalenko: Icannot be so dogmatic as to say that the Russian authorities are doing their best to see that this tragedy is forgotten. Ihave been told that the Moscow city government was involved in publishing the Book of Memory. Fromthis book everyone will learn about these people, it is very, very important. Ialso heard that a church is to be built. Somehave a negative opinion about this, others are positive, but in any case, something is beingdone.

What the Russian government wants everyone to forget is who is responsible for what. Thatis what our complaint is not allowing them to do. Theentire group of applicants is demanding the truth, waiting for the truth, hoping for thetruth.

But here is where you are absolutely correct: besides the European Court, we do not have anything we can count on. IfI remember correctly, the investigation has been extended to December. Itgets reopened and every time the time passes, people leave, and the more and more of the information becomes restricted, and this does not please the applicants. Sowe cannot count on results from the investigation that is being performed in Russia, and so our principals, no matter how long it takes, are waiting for a decision from the EuropeanCourt.

You are going to ask me, fine, they recognize a violation occurred, what next? Well, first of all, it is important, and, secondly, the focus then shifts from the European Court’s decision to its strict enforcement, and as far as the enforcement of such a decision, there will probably be certain measures awaiting my clients. Ido not wish to name these measures or comment on them ahead of time, but we will certainly demand a genuine investigation (into the terrorist attack), with access to all information.

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