Application Number 35222/04

European Court of Human Rights

The applicant published articles in his newspapers calling for, inter alia, the exclusion of Jews from social life. He was charged with publicly inciting ethnic, racial and religious hatred. The ECtHR found that the speech fell outside the scope of Convention protection.


Theme(s): Anti-Semitism

Date: 20 February 2007

Description of applicant(s): Sole founder, owner and editor of the Russkoye Veche newspaper.

Brief description of facts: In 2003, the applicant was charged with public incitement to ethnic, racial and religious hatred through the use of the mass-media. The prosecution’s case was that the applicant, through a series of publications in his newspaper, called for the exclusion of Jews from social life, alleged the existence of a causal link between social, economic and political discomfort and the activities of Jews, and portrayed the malignancy of the Jewish ethnic group.

At the trial the applicant asserted his innocence, maintaining that the “Ziono-Fascist leadership of the Jewry” was the source of all evils in Russia. He believed that, in the absence of reliable information, the Russian public could not learn the causes and reasons of its predicament. He was fined approximately 300 Euro.

(Alleged) target(s) of speech: Jews

The Court’s assessment of the impugned speech: The Court held that the speech was anti-Semitic and sought to incite hatred against Jews. It used Article 17 to reject the application.

Important paragraph(s) from the judgment:  

The Court has no doubt as to the markedly anti-Semitic tenor of the applicant’s views and it agrees with the assessment made by the domestic courts that he sought through his publications to incite hatred towards the Jewish people. Such a general and vehement attack on one ethnic group is in contradiction with the Convention’s underlying values, notably tolerance, social peace and non-discrimination. Consequently, the Court finds that, by reason of Article 17 of the Convention, the applicant may not benefit from the protection afforded by Article 10 of the Convention. It follows that this part of the application must be rejected as being incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention, pursuant to Article 35 §§ 3 and 4.

ECHR Article: Article 17

Decision: Incompatible ratione materiae with the provisions of the Convention

Use of ‘hate speech’ by the Court in its assessment? No