Grinberg v. Russia
(Application no. 23472/03)
The applicant published an article critical of the newly-elected Governor's treatment of journalists. The applicant concluded the article by stating the Governor had "no shame and no scruples." The Governor brought a civil defamation suit. The court found for the Governor and the appellate court affirmed the decision. The applicant filed the case with the ECHR.
The applicant argued that the phrase was a well-known idiom, understood as a value judgment rather than a statement of fact. The Government of the Russian Federation acknowledged the interference with the applicant's freedom of expression, but argued it was justified for the protection of the reputation and rights of others.
The ECHR held that the statement was a value judgment and the interference was not "necessary in a democratic society" within the meaning of Article 10 of the Convention. In finding for the applicant, the Court reiterated that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society. The Court also noted that the limit of acceptable criticism is wider with regard to a politician acting in a public capacity.
The Court concluded that there had been a violation of Article 10 of the Convention.
URL Link: http://cmiskp.echr.coe.int/tkp197/view.asp?item=1&portal=hbkm&action=html&highlight=Grinberg%20%7C%20Russia&sessionid=72047254&skin=hudoc-en
Authoring Organisation: European Court of Human Rights