Russian senator proposes suing Ukraine over sanctions damage

©  Sergey Pivovarov
Senator Mikhail Marchenko, representing a Russian region bordering Ukraine, wants to sue Kiev in the European Court of Human Rights over damages inflicted on the Russian economy by Western sanctions and the huge influx of refugees from war-torn Donbass.

Ukraine is constantly putting forward claims against Russia, blaming us for damages that they suffer because of their own internal conflict. But the Russian Federation has taken significant hits in this situation, resulting from sanctions that hurt both businesses and ordinary citizens, and the humanitarian disaster that forces our border regions to accept hundreds of thousands of refugees,” senator Marchenko said in comments to the Izvestia daily.

The senator acknowledged that Russia had slim chances of winning a lawsuit in a European court, but added that Ukraine’s chances were not great as well. “But I still think we must have an adequate answer,” he told reporters.

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Lower House MP Vasily Likhachev (Communist Party), said the lawsuit against Ukraine was possible and necessary, because many Russian citizens had suffered due to the Ukrainian conflict and protecting citizens’ rights is one of the primary functions of the state. The politician noted that as a member of the United Nations, Russia could even address the international criminal court.

Another Duma deputy, Leonid Kalashnikov (Communist Party) opined it would be better if parliament helped ordinary people from Russia and Ukraine to sue the Kiev administration for damages sustained in the conflict. Kalashnikov also said he believed that not all international courts were biased and politicized, and that future plaintiffs had a chance of persuading judges.

Earlier this month, the Russian Public Chamber reported that several NGOs had prepared about 17,000 lawsuits from Ukrainian citizens in the European court. They are seeking compensation of about $5.6 billion over numerous rights violations committed by pro-Kiev military during the war in the southeastern regions of the country. Activists told reporters that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg had already accepted about 400 cases and was considering 500 more. They added that they expected the first process in one of these cases to start before the end of this year.

The war in Ukraine caused about 1 million Ukrainian citizens to flee their homes and seek asylum in Russia, which offered refugees simplified registration and various aid. This put Russia top of the world list for asylum applications, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ annual report.

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Russian officials and human rights activists have repeatedly called for steps to make the lives of Ukrainian refugees easier, and the Federal Migration Service has already introduced some measures.

Russian authorities have altered the rules and laws to help Ukrainian refugees and migrants. In August 2014, Deputy PM Olga Golodets said in a radio interview that all Ukrainian refugees of pension age would receive their pensions in Russia, and refugee children would have the opportunity to go to Russian schools.

The authorities also simplified procedures for getting official refugee status and temporary asylum for Ukrainian citizens arriving in Russia from the regions engulfed in the conflict.